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Pup-ulation explosion on shores of West Seattle

Seal Sitters’ volunteers are trying to catch their breath after a whirlwind of pups the last few weeks - a veritable pupulation explosion on our shoreline. Why are so many pups drawn to West Seattle? That is a question we’re all asking, including our NOAA stranding expert. Last year from August - December, we watched over a total of 33 different West Seattle pups. Of those, three pups spent 15, 17 and 52 consecutive days hauled out. There were a total of 15 pups from August - October 4th.

This year, from August - October 5th (yesterday), we have already surpassed last year’s five-month total: 35 different pups have now been observed and protected by our West Seattle volunteers! And October is typically one of our busiest months, so we can only guess how many pups we’ll have by the end of the year.

Our 35th pup is shown in the photo here. Nicknamed Spanky, this very robust and alert pup found a nice rock to rest upon before the incoming tide’s waves sent him swimming off into the Sound. This is just the kind of round pup with a thick blubber layer that we want to see this time of year, when too many are becoming thinner and trying to survive. Blacky, who has been using Lincoln Park for several weeks now, has become noticeably thinner the past two sightings. Seal pup Aquarius, who hauled out at Constellation Park for two days in a row, was rescued from that beach Friday, but died at PAWS. We cannot stress enough that seal pups need to rest and warm up undisturbed in order to maintain their strength and keep their immune system resilient.

Tired volunteers watch over resting pups

Seal Sitters’ West Seattle volunteers are dragging from very long hours watching over multiple pups on beaches on all corners of our community. Wednesday morning, Bianca returned to her favorite, not so safe spot. She looked healthy and rested for a number of hours. The hotline also received a call about a seal pup at Lincoln Park. Good samaritan Jim protected a very rotund Blacky on the log-covered beach (see photo) until our over-extended volunteers could arrive. Thank you so much, Jim! And thanks, too, to Trileigh and Barb who did the same last week, keeping people and dogs away until we could arrive at the park. Blacky crawled up closer to the sea wall and slept among the logs.

Late in the afternoon, we received a call that a small pup had just hauled out on a city-side beach (photo left). Our responders found the very small and chubby pup resting in the waves. Nicknamed Oona, he had a very long snooze on the beach as the Seattle skyline twinkled at dark. He was so fat and small that we thought we might have a nursing pup; however, photos of teeth reveal that he is indeed weaned and on his own.

Yesterday, volunteers were stretched to the max as we had four pups on shore at the same time in different West Seattle locations. We had pups at two different Beach Drive parks, a pup hauled out a city-side beach and seal pup Bianca, who returned for the fifth day in a row, resing a full ten hours before she returned to Elliott Bay at high tide. Needless to say, our volunteers were exhausted and we cannot thank them enough. The hotline handled 22 phone calls yesterday. The hotline operators and volunteer schedulers deserve many kudos for all their hard work, day after day.

The Sno-King wing of Seal Sitters (responding to calls in Seattle and beaches to the north) has been looking after a pup who has been returning to the same beach for several days running.

Pup-o-Rama still playing in West Seattle

West Seattle continues to be a hotspot for seal pups to haul out and try to catch some z’s. Responders have had their hands full trying to stay on top of reports of pups from one end of WS to the next - not to mention trying to keep up with the blog. Sunday, the 25th, was our quietest day after a number of days in a row with multiple pups. Sunday we had one pup at Lincoln Park who popped on and off shore throughout the day as volunteers monitored the pup’s movement.

Monday, a day of heavy rain and winds, found a new pup lounging in the middle of Don Armeni boat launch. Since there was one lone boat that launched and no trailers in the lots, the pup rested for the day on the cement “beach” (photo above). Pups are attracted to boat ramps because the docks over the water are habitat for the tiny fish that seal pups favor and the ramps are just like one endless beach to them. Food and a nice resting place is attractive to a pup. However, a boat ramp is an extremely dangerous place for a pup to call home - a seal pup was run over this season at the Steilacoom boat ramp. Our new big and healthy weaned pup, dubbed Bianca for her white coat, returned to the water late in the afternoon after being protected by hardy and dedicated volunteers standing in a cold rain. In the meantime, our investigator responded to reports of two dead seal pups at Lincoln Park. Those pups were taken for necropsy and we will post the results when we receive them. The two pups are not ones our volunteers have looked after.

Tuesday brought sunshine and three visitors. The hotline received a call that a pup was on a Duwamish Head beach. Sure enough, our responder found Bianca onshore, stretching in the warm morning sun. Our volunteers and the few walkers along the sea wall enjoyed her antics. About two hours later, a very small pup came ashore just around the bend from her. This pup was quite chubby and alert, but quickly zonked out and took a long snooze as onlookers oohed and ahhed from the sidewalk above. The pup, named appropriately enough, Chunky, and Bianca both returned to Elliott Bay when the tide rose and the beach vanished. As Bianca and Chunky were still lounging on the sand, we responded to a report of a pup at Lincoln Park, Blacky, whom volunteers looked over til very late afternoon. Unfortunately, Bianca reappeared early evening at the very unsafe boat launch - where off leash dogs, many people and trucks, trailers, boats and cars are too close. If you see a pup on the boat ramp, please call our hotline immediately @ 206-905-SEAL (7325).

Pups need to rest - stay away and don't touch!

Seal pup Blacky hauled out again early this morning at the same spot he has used for three days running now. Unfortunately, the tape barrier was breached and the alert and jittery pup was scared back into the water. Blacky did not return today. We hope to see this dark little pup tomorrow.

Late afternoon, the hotline received a call about a pup on a beach near the Fauntleroy ferry (photo at right). A ferry worker told our responder that a man was “petting” the pup before we arrived. It is against federal law to touch or harass a seal, punishable by fine and/or imprisonment. An off-leash dog also reportedly had caused the pup to leave the beach, but after the dog left he returned. Our responder taped off the area (except for the end on private land) and volunteers stayed on the beach, intercepting a man jogging along the shore’s edge and another walking with an off-leash dog. Both men were extremely cooperative and considerate when informed of the pup’s presence. This very small pup has been identified as Gypsy, who spent an evening on the beach at Lincoln Park on the 21st. Gypsy swam off into the Sound as evening fell - hopefully to fatten up a bit.

Thanks so much to all of you who are calling in reports to our hotline. You are truly our eyes on the beach and make a tremendous difference in our ability to protect these terribly vulnerable pups. And, as always, thanks to our volunteers who are putting in mega-hours!

More new pups keep "sitters" on the run

Once again, these are busy days for Seal Sitters in West Seattle and Seattle. The Sno-King wing has been observing pups three days in a row on a very populated beach in Seattle. The pups are a bit thin, but otherwise seem healthy and the pattern of returning to the Sound is reassuring.

Yesterday in West Seattle, we had four pups on shore - three on public beaches and one on private property. The two at Lincoln Park could not have differed more in appearance. Paloma is a white pup with subtle spots and Blacky is very dark with light spots. The two pups, one at the park’s southend and the other mid-park, spent many hours on the beach. Both were tucked among the logs for much of the day. The third pup at Constellation Park was nicknamed Orion. There was some confusion as to the initial reported location of this pup. Please remember if you call the hotline give as precise a location as possible - if a pup is within park boundaries, please note a landmark for our responders. If there is a visible street address, please let our dispatcher know.

Early this morning, the hotline received a report that a pup was on Alki beach. Our responder arrived minutes after the call came in, but no pup was found. Shortly afterwards, we received a call about another pup on the beach at Lincoln Park. When our responders arrived, there was no pup at that reported location. However, we soon spotted a pup hauling out just to the south. The skittish pup, who was identified as Blacky (shown here), was alert to people’s presence, but finally settled in, stretched and yawned in the sun and stayed til sunset.

Heads up as you walk the beach - pups are everywhere!

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