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Burien and Des Moines marine mammals could use some help

Marine Science and Technology Center (MaST) of Highline College is looking for volunteers to join their marine mammal stranding team. If you live in the Burien or Des Moines area and would like to help marine mammals - or if you are already a volunteer and would like a refresher course - please attend their “meet and greet” event on Saturday, October 5th at 3pm. You’ll meet current and new team members and learn about MaST’s stranding response procedures. MaST’s jurisdiction begins just south of Brace Point where Seal Sitters MMSN’s response territory ends.

MaST is located at 28203 Redondo Beach Drive South at Des Moines’ Redondo Beach. For directions, click here.

Pup enjoys a quiet evening snooze with a view

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An alert, silky white seal pup managed to get in a pretty good nap last evening, snuggled in the rocks below the Alki sea wall. The pup appears to have an eye infection, but overall body condition and demeanor looked encouraging.

Volunteers stood quietly on duty and watched as the brilliant orange sun dipped behind the Olympic Mountains, creating a spectacular sunset. As darkness fell and the tide brushed over him, the pup nicknamed Hyak was not quite ready to return to Puget Sound. He climbed higher up onto the rock and rested a while longer until drenched by a series of waves from a passing ferry. Hyak slipped off the rock and disappeared into the cold waters.

Koa takes a rest from stormy seas

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As is not uncommon after a day or two of winds and turbulent seas, Seal Sitters dedicated hotline (206-905-7325) rang yesterday afternoon with the report of a seal on Alki Beach. First responder Lynn dashed to the scene and found a pleasantly plump (compared to our string of emaciated pups) young seal with a gorgeous dark, spotted coat. With the help of volunteer Sura and a nice young couple walking the beach, a wide perimeter was established so the pup could settle in for an extended rest. The pup was nicknamed Koa, meaning “fearless, brave or strong” in Hawaiian.

Koa was still snoozing on the beach late into the evening as volunteers bundled up against the wind and cold. The pup returned to the Sound sometime overnight. While seals can sleep in the water (coming up for air every 20 minutes or so) and often ride out storms by “bottom resting”, it is not nearly as restful (or warm) as sleeping on shore. Thanks to all the volunteers who protected Koa and to Abigail for scheduling the volunteers in shifts to do so!

Seal pup deaths hit volunteers hard

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The 2013 harbor seal pupping season in the West Seattle area is off to a grueling start. We have seen nothing but terribly skinny pups in the past weeks - including newborn Sparkle (shown here with a yearling) who was most likely abandoned by her mom due to boater harassment. Thus far, not a single reasonably plump and viable pup has rested on our shores. Even veteran first responders who deal with marine mammal death frequently throughout the year, find ourselves with tear-filled eyes as we watch these pups struggle to survive. With limited rehabilitation space and recent slashed funding for research, our hands are tied in too many situations.

Yes, there is a 50% mortality rate within the first year of life for seal pups. However, prior to the past two seasons, we had a number of robust, vital pups foraging and hauling out to rest and warm up on the beach - in addition to those who were dangerously underweight and teetering on that thin line between life and death. This constant stream of terribly thin pups the past two years should not be the norm. Seal Sitters’ Year of the Seal: Sentinels of the Sound educational outreach project was born out of concern for the health of harbor seals and our troubled Puget Sound waters. We are so saddened to report the number of seal pups that SS has responded to that have died in the past few weeks has now reached 9 - many of those pups were ones that volunteers devoted hundreds of hours of observation and protection.

While Seal Sitters may not have been able to save these pups, our volunteers and a very caring public let them rest undisturbed and leave this world with dignity and love. And we were able to educate many, many people who stood captivated as the pups stretched and yawned and occasionally gazed back at them. These pups touched us all very deeply.

On a much happier note, emaciated seal pup Snapper who was rescued from the beach at Cormorant Cove on August 6th has been thriving in rehab at PAWS Wildlife Center. Snapper weighed 8.8 kg upon admission to PAWS and at last report was true “blubberball” weight in excess of 20kg. The pup will be released back to the wild near Everett’s Jetty Island in mid-October. Read about Snapper.

SEAL PUP POLO
We received heartbreaking news that seal pup Polo died Thursday morning, September 19th, at PAWS Wildlife Center. Polo was rescued early morning on the 15th as he suffered from seizures in the tideline below the Alki Avenue sea wall and taken to PAWS. This sweet little pup fought valiantly for almost a week, as PAWS’ staff did everything in their power to save him, but to no avail.

Volunteers had observed and protected Polo for numerous days that week, with no indication of serious health issues - other than being thin, but not nearly as thin as other pups before him. However, one thing responders have learned over the course of the past 7 years is that a pup’s health can take a drastic turn for the worse seemingly overnight. Such seems to be the case with Polo.

The necropsy by WDFW-MMI reveals that Polo had a blubber thickness of only .2 cm. A healthy, robust pup should have a blubber thickness over 2.5 cm and weigh 20-25 kg. A pup with a thickness of less than 1cm is not likely to be able to survive. The seizures were most likely due to hypoglycemia as a result of emaciation. Read about Polo here.

SEAL PUP SPARKLE
Sparkle, the pup most likely abandoned by her mom because of boater harassment at the Alki platform, was euthanized at PAWS on September 9th. She was estimated to be about 5 days old when rescued from the beach by Seal Sitters first responders. PAWS’ Dr. John Huckabee believes Sparkle’s immune system was not functioning properly, as she struggled the entire time she was there with digestive issues, ear and other infections and a heart murmur. Read about Sparkle here.

SEAL PUP ANGEL
On Wednesday, September 18th, SS Lead Investigator Robin Lindsey and Seattle Aquarium volunteer Jarett Kaplan paddled out along with SS Science Advisor and zoologist Buzz Shaw to examine, mark and sink the body of seal pup Angel. Terribly thin, Angel visited our shore very briefly on Saturday the 14th, but died a day or so later on the offshore Alki platform. We had to wait several days until there were no other seals using the raft to do the retrieval. The body was marked with biodegradable spray paint for identification purposes (in case the body came ashore elsewhere) and returned to the Sound to nourish other animals in the ecosystem. Many thanks to Jarett for keeping an eye on the platform for a window of opportunity to examine Angel.

SEAL PUP KITTEN
First responders discovered Kitten dead on a private beach south of the Alki promenade on September 2nd. The thin female pup had been guarded by volunteers the previous day and many days prior. Her body was taken for necropsy by WDFW-MMI. The female pup weighed only 7.9 kg with a .3 cm blubber thickness. A normal thickness for robust pup is between 2.5 and 3 cm. Among other complications, she was suffering from gastroenteritis. Read about Kitten here.

SEAL PUP IRIE
Irie hauled out during the evening of August 26th at Alki, not too far from where volunteers were watching over seal pup Kitten. The pup was alert and plumper than most. Irie was found dead by the Bathhouse on August 31st, marked with biodegradable paint for identification purposes and returned to the Sound.

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SEAL PUP BELLABABY
BellaBaby (at left) was found dead on a private beach just north of Lincoln Park on August 24th. She had been observed resting the day before at a nearby location. The pup was transported to WDFW-MMI for necropsy which revealed that the pup weighed 9 kg, was 80 cm in length and had a blubber thickness of .9. On examination, BellaBaby had an abnormal “fatty liver”, which can occur in weaned pups as they convert from a fatty diet (mom’s milk is about 50% fat) to starvation. Read about BellaBaby here.

Poco touches hearts of volunteers and public

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A very thin seal pup captured the hearts of volunteers and the public as they stood watch over him for two days. The pup first came ashore beneath the sea wall on the north end of Harbor Avenue Friday morning, spending several hours resting in the warm sun. He then returned to Elliott Bay and was observed foraging just offshore for some time. This was reassuring, since he desperately needs to pack on some blubber for energy and warmth!

Nicknamed Poco, “little” in Spanish, he reappeared on a tiny bit of beach at Duwamish Head (Luna Park). Thanks to Scott of Alki Kayak for alerting us that people were down on the beach taking photos “with” him. Volunteers arrived in minutes, establishing a tape perimeter and set up a scope so that the public got a great view of the snoozing pup, but the incoming tide eventually forced him to return to the cold waters. Volunteers scanned the east-side shoreline, anticipating his return. And return he did in the early evening - this time to the ever dangerous Don Armeni boat ramp. Responders quickly set up barricades and tape, closing off one of the three ramps, ensuring his safety until he left the site in the wee hours of Saturday morning.

Poco hauled out again at the boat ramp around 6:45 am, luckily well after the many fishermen had launched in pursuit of what remains of the salmon run. Even with one ramp closed, there was little inconvenience to boaters who were able to launch and retrieve easily. Save for a few, the fishermen were quite supportive of our work and very gracious about “Sharing the Shore”. The pup rested until late morning when a fisherman’s truck startled him back to the Bay. Poco swam north and came ashore on a small beach for a short time.

Volunteers did numerous checks of Poco’s haul-out spots, but we did not see him last night or today. We hope he has found a safe place to rest and plentiful food source.

Seal pup Polo taken for treatment at PAWS

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Over the course of several days, a very active seal pup (nicknamed Polo) kept Seal Sitters’ responders on their toes, trying to keep pace with his haul-out patterns. The hotline received a call about a pup on the beach at 53rd and Alki around noon on Thursday, but the pup had already returned to the water when first responder Lynn arrived. Polo hauled out again twice in the early and late evening at the same location. A generous perimeter was set on the beach, but onlookers were treated to a very close view of the pup from the seawall.

On Friday, Polo came ashore and then left 5 different times during the day and evening. It was wisely decided to leave the tape perimeter intact to protect him during his frequent forays back and forth to the Sound. Polo broke his own haul-out record by round-tripping 6 times during the day and night on Saturday! Volunteers watched over him until after 10pm and a concerned neighbor (thank you, Leeann) held vigil until midnight. The pup was still snoozing soundly when Leeann left for home.

Polo was gone from the beach at 6am yesterday morning, but an alert walker noticed a pup sleeping near the water about an hour later. It was Polo, but this time he was in serious physical distress. He was immediately rescued and taken to PAWS for hydration and stabilization. Thankfully, PAWS had an open space for an incoming seal pup. The estimated 6-8 week old male pup weighs less than 8 kg (less than a newborn pup).

Polo showed no signs of health issues over the three days volunteers observed him, except for being underweight - a common problem with weaned seal pups. This just drives home the fact that these young pups are in a daily struggle to survive, while it may not be evident to us that there are underlying health issues. All of the pups we have looked after this season have been far too thin.

PAWS reported this morning that Polo did indeed survive the night. Please stayed tuned as we provide updates on his condition. Many thanks to the exhausted first responders and all the volunteers (and caring public) who protected sweet Polo along West Seattle’s shoreline.

PUPDATE
9/18/13

We received a report last evening that Polo is still stabilized at PAWS, though his condition is “guarded”. He is battling several health issues, including potential lung worm infection, and has multiple infected bite wounds (from an undetermined source). Lungworm is a serious problem in weaned seal pups. As struggling pups tend to lose weight while they transition from nursing to foraging for food, parasites can seize this opportunity to take over. Pups’ immune systems are not yet strong enough to fight off these lung and heart parasite loads. The “worming” treatment itself is terribly dangerous in itself for a weak pup. Polo has some major hurdles to overcome and we thank PAWS for their valiant efforts to save him.

9/19/13

Sadly, PAWS reports this morning that Polo has died. The pup was transferred to WDFW-MMI for necropsy.

Harbor Seal Day video now online

“Harbor Seal Day” held on September 8th was a day of celebration and the culmination of Seal Sitters’ Year of the Seal: Sentinels of the Sound project. In case you could not attend the dedication event for Georgia Gerber’s beautiful bronze sculpture “Sentinels of the Sound”, watch the video below for the complete ceremony. Special thanks to John Larson and Melinda Simon of Gypsy Soul Productions for videotaping the event!

"Harbor Seal Day" a resounding success and helps raise awareness

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An estimated 300 people took part in the festivities on “Harbor Seal Day” Sunday afternoon, as Seal Sitters hosted an event celebrating the dedication of Georgia Gerber’s “Sentinels of the Sound” sculpture of a harbor seal mom and pup.

The Alki Bathhouse was filled to the brim with educational exhibits and children creating jellyfish, seal puppets and other cool sea creatures. Shown at right is one of Seal Sitters’ first responders and talented artist Lynn Shimamoto (with her 6 year old grandaughter) in the puppet show booth she created for kids to enjoy. Just outside, lots of folks had fun posing for photos, poking their heads through the painted underwater scene (check back for a gallery of submitted photos - email your photo of the puppet show or underwater scene here).

For Art and Story contest winners and the great donated prizes the kids won, please click here.

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FLIPPER HUGS TO OUR HARD-WORKING VOLUNTEERS
Many, many hours were devoted to the day’s event and many thanks to all of the awesome volunteers who helped out in the weeks before the event, designing posters and displays, craft projects for children, posting flyers and getting word out to the media. And to those who helped out Sunday, picking up the many specialty cakes, setting up (and breaking down) chairs, stages, tables, artwork, helping exhibitors - all the tasks that go into pulling off a major event. Everyone who helped deserves huge kudos! Core team members who contributed countless hours to “Harbor Seal Day” event planning were JoDean Edelheit, David and Eilene Hutchinson, Lynn Shimamoto, Lars Halstrom, Larry Carpenter, Karin Cumming, Candace Sullivan and Robin Lindsey.

Special thanks as well to Chas Redmond and Tony Fragada who donated their time to provide professional sound for the event.

FLIPPER HUGS TO OUR FANTASTIC EXHIBITORS
Our outstanding exhibitors included the WA Department of Fish and Wildlife Marine Mammal Investigations, Seattle Aquarium, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, The Whale Trail, NOAA Marine Debris Division, Tox-ick, NOAA Marine Mammal Stranding Network and Sno-King Marine Mammal Response, PAWS Wildlife Center (with a fascinating inside look at seal pup rehabilitation), Killer Whale Tales, Soundside Marinelife Rescue. Huge thanks to all of you who donated your Sunday afternoon to help us celebrate and educate the public! So many people remarked how wonderful the exhibits were and how much information they gleaned from those staffing the tables.

FLIPPER HUGS TO OUR PRIZE DONORS AND BUSINESS PROMOTIONS
Local businesses generously donated great prizes to help Seal Sitters raise money to fund our on-going operating expenses, including dedicated hotline costs, webhosting fees, and stranding and educational materials. Donors included Alki Kayak, Mountain to Sound Outfitters, Phoenecia Restaurant, NW Art and Frame, Bakery Nouveau, Sunfish Seafood Restaurant and Saigon Boat Cafe.

Spud Fish and Chips, Bamboo Bar and Grill, Subway on Alki and Hotwire Coffee ran special promotions to benefit Seal Sitters.

QFC Bakery on 42nd Ave SW and Baked Seattle donated specialty cakes for the event. West Seattle Thriftway and Seattle Costco donated gift cards used for food for volunteers and exhibitors. Saigon Boat Cafe provided delicious sandwiches for hungry volunteers, too. Starbucks on Alki donated coffee to keep us going for the day.

Great prizes were donated to the winners of the children’s Art & Story contest (see post here) by The Seattle Aquarium, Woodland Park Zoo, Northwest Art and Frame, Slices, Young at Art, and MacMillan Publishing Group ( Leopard and Silkie and Seal Pup Rescue).

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FLIPPER HUGS TO OUR GUEST SPEAKERS
Master of Ceremonies Jim Dever (of Evening Magazine fame) was the perfect “host” for our dedication ceremony. His witty interlude with young Seal Sitters was a highlight of the program. Kid vols Etienne, Elizabeth and Louisa answered questions with great poise and authority.

We were honored to have Ken Workman (great-great-great-great grandson of Chief Sealth) of the Duwamish give a welcoming message. National Geographic author and co-founder of Seal Sitters Brenda Peterson gave an engaging overview of our work. Many thanks to Department of Neighborhoods’ Bernie Matsuno and State Representative Joe Fitzgibbon for respectively reading Mayor McGinn and Governor Jay Inslee’s “Harbor Seal Day” proclamations.

HUMONGOUS FLIPPER HUGS TO ARTIST GEORGIA GERBER
Georgia’s stunning work, “Sentinels of the Sound”, will grace Alki Beach for many, many years to come and raise public awareness of the need to share the shore with all wildlife. We cannot begin to express our gratitude.

Click here to download the “Harbor Seal Day” Program listing all participants and acknowledgements.

MEDIA COVERAGE
Both the West Seattle Herald and the West Seattle Blog gave the event generous coverage in weeks leading up to and day of the event. Thanks to Patrick Robinson (WS Herald) and Tracy Record (WS Blog) for your on-going support! Please visit their links below.

West Seattle Herald (article and slideshow)

West Seattle Blog (photos and video)

Art and Story contest winners honored at Harbor Seal Day

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Young artists and writers who entered Seal Sitters’ Art and Story contest were recognized at Sunday’s “Harbor Seal Day” event. All entries were displayed inside the Bathhouse.

A very special thanks goes to volunteer Lynn Shimamoto, an architectural illustrator by profession, who worked so hard to get art submissions. She set up art tables next to our booth at summer educational outreach events, teaching kids about seal biology and behavior as they created vivid illustrations. Kudos to Lynn - volunteer extraordinaire!

Every child was an “Honorable Mention” winner, but prizes were awarded for standout art entries as judged by Diane Venti, owner of Alki Arts Gallery, Lezlie Jane, well-known West Seattle artist, and Seal Sitters’ Candace Sullivan.

ART CONTEST PRIZE WINNERS, KINDERGARTEN - 2nd GRADE DIVISION
1st Place Ruby Zorzella (Kindergarten), winner of a Family Fun pack donated by Woodland Park Zoo
2nd Place Jackson Neumann (Kindergarten), winner of 2 hours studio time at Young at Art
3rd Place Owen Turcotte (2nd grade), winner of certificate for a free pizza from Slices
1st Runner-up Siena Tatro, (1st grade), winner of Leopard and Silkie and Seal Pup Rescue books (MacMillan Publishing)
2nd Runner-up Josie Riemer (1st grade), winner of Leopard and Silkie and Seal Pup rescue books

ART CONTEST WINNERS, 3rd-5th GRADE DIVISION
1st Place Emilee Owen (5th grade), winner of admission for 4 donated by Seattle Aquarium
2nd Place Eloise Van Matre (4th Grade), winner 2 hours studio time at Young at Art
3rd Place Lily Clark (3rd Grade), winner of certificate for free pizza from Slices
1st Runner-up Hope Kuchan (4th Grade), winner of tie-dye kit from Northwest Art and Frame
2nd Runner-up Fay Turcotte (3rd Grade), winner of Shrinky-Dinks book from Northwest Art and Frame

STORY CONTEST WINNERS
1st Place Stella Zorzella (3rd Grade), winner of admission for 4 donated by Seattle Aquarium
2nd Place Theo Schill, winner of metalic marker set from Seal Sitters
3rd Place Dahlia Kristiansson (1st Grade), activity book/colored pencils, Northwest Art and Frame

Many thanks to nature writer Brenda Peterson and her students for judging the Story contest submissions and to Diane and Lezlie for their time and expertise to judge the art entries.

To ensure that every child received a prize for entering the contest, WDFW Marine Mammal Investigations Unit donated numerous beautiful posters depicting marine life.

Huge thanks to the Seattle Aquarium, Woodland Park Zoo, Northwest Art and Frame, Slices, Young at Art, MacMillan Publishing Group (Christy Ottaviano Books) and WDFW for generously donating prizes to these talented kids!

Check back for a photo gallery of highlighted artwork and winning stories.

Countdown to "Harbor Seal Day" - win great raffle prizes!

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Seal Sitters volunteers are busy tying up loose ends for tomorrow afternoon’s highly anticipated public event, “Harbor Seal Day”, at the Alki Bathhouse. Cakes have been picked up, videos tweaked, programs are printed. It will be a busy morning as volunteers will be at the sculpture site early, sweeping the installation and dusting the “Sentinels of the Sound”. The sculpture dedication ceremony will be held at 1:30.

The culmination of our “Year of the Seal” educational outreach project, the Bathhouse will be open from 1-4pm and will be filled with marine-related environmental groups.There will be crafts for kids - even a puppet show booth. Groove to the smooth sounds of “Seals Love Jazz Quintet”, led by Sno-King Marine Mammal Response’s very own lead investigator, Rachel Mayer.

Local businesses have donated some great raffle prizes, among those are restaurant gift certificates and a sunset kayak tour for 2 by Alki Kayak. Bamboo Bar and Grill, Spud Fish and Chips and Subway along Alki Ave are having food promotions tomorrow (Spud’s special is today AND tomorrow) and will be making donations to Seal Sitters based on sales. For a list of the super raffle prizes (tickets only $1) and promotions, click here.

We hope to see you there!

WA Governor Inslee declares September 8th "Harbor Seal Day"

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At the request of Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network, recently elected Governor Jay Inslee has proclaimed Sunday, September 8th “Harbor Seal Day”. Included in the proclamation is the message to all Washington residents across our state to join Governor Inslee and help keep our waters free of trash and toxins, and to “share the shore” with harbor seals and all wildlife.

Please help us celebrate “Harbor Seal Day” this Sunday afternoon - meet “Sentinels of the Sound” sculpture artist Georgia Gerber and visit the educational exhibits by 10 marine-related organizations in the Alki Bathhouse. There will be kids’ activities, music and cake as well!

Thank you so much, Governor Inslee! We appreciate your commitment to restore the health of Puget Sound and the marine life that calls it “home”.

Read the full proclamation here.

Read more about Seal Sitters’ “Year of the Seal: Sentinels of the Sound” year-long educational outreach project here.

Businesses lend a hand to help Seal Sitters help marine mammals

Seal Sitters MMSN wants to thank the new Alki Subway shop (2758 Alki Ave SW) and Bamboo Bar and Grill (2806 Alki Ave SW) for special promotions on “Harbor Seal Day”, September 8th, to help raise funds for our operating expenses!
Hotwire Coffee (4410 California Ave SW) is offering an on-going specialty “Seal Sitters Mocha” that continues to raise donations. Thank you, Lora.
Special thanks to volunteers Chris, JoDean and Lars who worked to secure these promotions. See details below.

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Buy a chowder this weekend and help seal pup Spud's buds

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In 2007, a tiny seal pup flopped ashore on Alki Beach almost directly across from Spud Fish and Chips (2666 Alki Ave SW). Concerned residents banded together to protect this vulnerable pup and nicknamed him Spud. This loosely formed group grew to be known as Seal Sitters.

Now a full-fledged marine mammal stranding network with many operating expenses, Spud Fish and Chips on Alki is helping Seal Sitters continue to help new generations of seal pups.

The restaurant is offering a promotion that will donate $1 for every chowder purchase this weekend to celebrate our “Harbor Seal Day” educational event and sculpture dedication. Spread the word to friends and family to chow down on some delicious chowder. Thanks so much to Spud Fish and Chips!





Seal pup Fudge a sweet treat for evening commuters

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Seal pup Fudge, estimated to be between 3-5 weeks old, is making the rounds on West Seattle’s beaches. First observed on Sunday near Colman Pool at Lincoln Park, the pup came ashore early this evening near the Water Taxi just after high tide. Thanks to the Ma-Kai employee who called the hotline so we could “seal” off the small beach and ensure he wouldn’t be scared back into Elliott Bay.

An enthralled stream of boat commuters returning from downtown Seattle oohed and ahhed over the stunning little pup. Fudge managed to catch some “z’s” even with the roar of traffic along Harbor Avenue and excited chatter of onlookers. Big thanks to the scuba divers who entered the water from the far end of the cove, through a small tape corridor we established. We’re still trying to determine if Fudge is on his own or if a mom is still in attendance. Stay tuned for an early morning “pupdate”.

NOTE: We had initially thought this was seal pup Butterball who rested at Jack Block Park yesterday, but further comparison of markings confirmed it was indeed Fudge.

PUPDATE: 9/3/13
Fudge was seen sleeping soundly on the inaccessible beach at Jack Block Park this afternoon and evening.

Young seal pups all along West Seattle shoreline

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If you’re talking a walk along the shoreline of West Seattle, whether it be the west side’s Alki Beach, Constellation or Lincoln Park - or catching a spectacular view of the Seattle skyline from the harbor side - seal pups are popping up all over. Yesterday, the hotline received a call of a pup at Jack Block Park.

Our responder found a small pup nestled in the rocks with an in-coming tide. Budding beach naturalist, 6-year old Blix was exploring the beach and stumbled upon the pup. Seal Sitters volunteer Linda and her family were out enjoying the beautiful day as well and called the hotline. Her young son Henry named the sleepy pup Buttercup. The photo of the pup here (health assessment photo taken with telephoto lens) shows how the pebbled coats of harbor seals effectively camouflage them on shore - all the more reason to be alert when you walk the beaches.

A perimeter was set up to allow Buttercup a bit of space to rest, yet still allow the public access out onto the pier to fish and enjoy the City view. A very quiet and respectful throng of folks asked lots of questions of volunteers who looked after the pup in shifts throughout the day into the evening. Just as darkness fell, Buttercup returned to the Sound in search of dinner and volunteers were able to go home for a very late dinner themselves.

So far, in this early stage of pupping season, the pups we have watched over have been too thin. They need every bit of quiet rest they can manage on our urban shores. Thanks to the volunteers who helped out yesterday!

Intense week for Seal Sitters as pups struggle to survive

The past week has been a busy one for seal pups and volunteers trying to protect them. Seal pup Kitten, who first appeared on Alki Beach last Monday, continues to get desperately-needed rest almost daily along on this bustling westside stretch of shore. He has been spending long days and nights to gather strength to forage, including all day Friday into the night on the very busy area by the volleyball courts. Volunteers spoke to hundreds of curious beach-goers over a more than 12-hour period. Increasingly (and alarmingly) thin, the pup spent yesterday under the watchful eye of volunteers and waterfront residents, sleeping throughout the day on private beach near the Lighthouse. With public access at lower tides and issues with off-leash dogs, a small stretch of the beach was closed to help him rest undisturbed. Thanks to the great homeowners who were passionate about protecting this struggling pup!

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Late yesterday afternoon, the hotline received a report of a pup just north of Lincoln Park’s Colman Pool. Responders were on the scene promptly and established a tape perimeter. The small, beautifully marked pup was nicknamed Fudge.

Luckily, we were able to capture a photo of Fudge with a big yawn which showed that all of the teeth have erupted, but some are still on the small size. Teeth are a good indicator of approximate age of a pup and helps us determine whether the pup is still nursing age or on his own. According to WDFW’s marine mammal biologist, after reviewing the photo, the pup is between 3-5 weeks old. Since pups can be weaned at 4 weeks, the jury is still out on Fudge - perhaps mom is still in the picture; however, the pup is a bit thinner than we’d like to see for one who is potentially still nursing. Fudge entertained people throughout the afternoon into the evening as he stretched and yawned close to the walking path. Volunteers put in many long hours ensuring he was safe.

PUPDATE 9/3/13
We are so sad to report that Kitten was found dead on private beach yesterday morning and transported for necropsy by WDFW-MMI in Lakewood. The female pup weighed only 7.9 kg with a .3 cm blubber thickness. A normal thickness for robust pup is between 2.5 and 3 cm. She was suffering from gastroenteritis.
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