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When is a seal chosen for rehabilitation?

It is a very complex and difficult decision to determine which animals are candidates for rehabilition in the Northwest Region. And unfortunately, not every seal pup or adult pinniped is considered a candidate. First of all, unlike California, Washington State has no dedicated marine mammal rehabilitation facility. Only PAWS (Seattle area) and Wolf Hollow (San Juan Islands) are able to take in seals for treatment and rehab and the space is quite limited. Additionally, it is estimated that it costs upwards of $10,000 to rehab one seal pup, as they must be tube fed if still nursing and stay at the facility for months before being released into the wild. If you would like to make a donation to PAWS please request that it be designated for seal rehab. If you would like to make a donation to Wolf Hollow please request that it be designated for seal rehab. If you would like to email Governor Gregoire requesting that our state establish a marine mammal rehab facility, click here.

Secondly, it is important that no marine mammal be removed from their natural habitat unless it is absolutely necessary. If removal is necessary, it will be done only by approved authorities. It is very stressful on an animal to be removed from the wild and put in a car or pickup to be driven for treatment. Oftentimes, if the seal is already terribly sick or injured, that can put such undue stress on the animal that they do not survive the trip itself. Because of the combination of that stress and the limited resources, a health assessment must be done on an individual basis to determine the feasibility of survival and rehabilitation. This includes photo documentation if available and analysis by NOAA's Marine Mammal Stranding expert or by a Fish and Wildlife biologist. If at all possible, a health assessment will be done on site. Health assessment includes determining obvious wounds, nasal, eye and mouth discharge, and body weight. If an animal is injured due to human cause, it will be assesed and then determined if the animal can be admitted to a rehabilitation facility. NOAA is implementing a training program for vets to do onsite health assessments and, if necessary, euthanasia of an animal that is suffering on the beach. If you are a vet or veterinary technician, please
email Kristin Wilkinson, NOAA stranding expert, if you are interested in this training.

Seal on the beach? Who to call

Following the recent stranded seal incident on Friday, June 5th, Seal Sitters has obtained some clarification from the NOAA Stranding Network as to protocol for reporting a marine mammal on the beach.

It is normal for a seal pup to be on the beach alone to rest and warm up. However, if you see a pup (or other marine mammal) on the beach, please call the NOAA Stranding Hotline @ 206-526-6733 to report the location of the animal. If the animal is on a West Seattle beach, please call Seal Sitters @ 206-905-7325. Be as precise as possible with a location. Neither of the above numbers are answered at night. Please leave a message with the information and a responder will search for the seal at first light the following morning.

If you see a marine mammal being harrassed or injured it is a 
matter for law enforcement. Call the NOAA Enforcement Hotline @ 1-800-853-1964 and tell them an animal is being harmed. If the animal or the public is in imminent danger, CALL 911. NOAA Enforcement is not an immediate response team, as there are limited officers in the Pacific Northwest. However, the line is answered 24 hours a day and a harassment should be reported to them immediately. They are an investigative unit and will fine and prosecute violators of the Marine Mammal Protection Act with the proper evidence ~ violator’s name, photo, or auto license plate number. Do not put yourself at risk to obtain this information. If you need a law enforcement presence because the public or animal is in imminent danger, call 911.

Adult harbor seal rescued, but dies ~ updated story

An adult harbor seal was rescued from the beach near 1005 Harbor Ave SW by WA Fish and Wildlife at approximately 1:45 Saturday afternoon. A veterinarian from PAWS was on scene to do an initial health assessment and the seal was then driven to the Fish and Wildlife Lakewood office for further assessment and treatment.  A state marine mammal biologist has reported that the seal died during examination at their office Saturday. The seal was extremely thin and unresponsive, hypothermic and possibly hypoglycemic. A necropsy will be performed on the animal to determine cause of death. 

Seal Sitters responded late Wednesday evening to a report of a seal on a Brace Point beach. The seal was thin and photos were sent that night to a NOAA stranding expert. The seal was gone the next morning at 5 am. Seal Sitters received another report on Friday mid-afternoon of a "possibly dead seal" on the rocks south of Brace Point. However, no seal was found at that location.

There were reports of an injured or sick adult seal being harassed on Alki Beach at approximately 9pm Friday night. An eyewitness at the scene says a man was “petting” the seal, refused to stop when told it was against the law and the authorities were called. At midnight there was a call to an emergency vet clinic regarding a very sick seal on Alki.
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