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Seal pals enjoy sunny day

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After the sadness of yesterday’s dead fin whale in Burien, it was a boost to the spirits to find seal pups Ruby and Buddy soaking up some rays today at Jack Block Park. The two pups were resting on the protected beach below the observation tower.

Rehab Ruby (in front, showing off her red flipper tag) has become somewhat of a celebrity, featured in this month’s issue of PAWS Magazine. She was taken to PAWS Wildlife Center at only 1 week old, abandoned on a beach in Steilacoom after being harassed by people. After her release back to a South Puget Sound harbor seal rookery in October, she made her way north several months later to the shores of Elliott Bay. She has found quite the friend in Buddy, who hangs out with her most every day at Jack Block. Seal Sitters volunteers have been monitoring both pups’ health over the past months. Read more about Ruby’s travels here.

Seal pup Ruby finds a much-needed friend

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Seal Sitters is elated to report that rehabbed seal pup Ruby, with her red flipper tag, has found a true friend at Jack Block Park. Almost every day now, she is seen resting on the Park’s inaccessible beach with another weaned pup, nicknamed Buddy. Volunteers first sighted them together on St. Patrick’s Day - and with each passing day, they seem to develop an even closer bond, often snoozing within a few inches of one another.

Ruby was taken from a Steilacoom beach to PAWS Wildlife Center when only a week old and had no contact with any other seals while in rehab for several months. Weak and dehydrated, she had been harassed by people on the beach and abandoned by her mother. She was released last October to a harbor seal haulout in that same area, but had not been sighted again until she appeared at a cove near Salty’s in late January.

Volunteers sighted Ruby numerous times over the next weeks on the Jack Block beaches, but never on the abandoned dock with the many other resting seals - she was always alone. That is, until Buddy befriended the 8-month-old pup. Ruby’s health had been taking a turn for the worse, with evidence of respiratory issues and volunteers were monitoring her health from the observation tower above the beach. However, Ruby seems to have rebounded and put on weight since they have been foraging and hauling out together. Buddy is usually on the alert as she sleeps, so she is able to get extended, stress-free rest. It has been a joy to watch this relationship develop as Ruby becomes more open to Buddy’s presence near her. Both volunteers and the public have had a rare opportunity to observe the heartwarming bonding of these two vulnerable weaners - and there truly is safety in numbers for seal pups.

St. Paddy's pinniped party in West Seattle

St. Patrick’s Day festivities started early this morning for Seal Sitters’ responder Lynn who was doing a routine check of Jack Block Park beaches. Standing on the observation tower platform shortly after 8am, she noticed rehab pup Ruby, with her bright red flipper tag, haul out onto the inaccessible beach below her. Ruby was only about a week old when she had to be taken to PAWS after repeated harassment by beachcombers in Steilacoom. After a lengthy stay at PAWS to fatten up and learn how to catch fish on her own, she was released back to the wild last October at a harbor seal haulout south of Tacoma. Seal Sitters first sighted her in West Seattle in late January and she has since been a regular visitor along the shoreline of Jack Block. We are excited that she has remained on our beat.

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As Lynn was walking out of the Park, she noticed yet another pup on the public beach, notorious for off leash dogs. She immediately taped off the beach entrance and established a perimeter with sandwich boards and signs. Volunteers were lined up to keep a close eye on the pup, nicknamed Shamrock (shown at right). On this cold and windy day, brand new volunteers (including young volunteers Fionn and Owen) along with more experienced Seal Sitters protected Shamrock until she returned to Elliott Bay late in the day.

Thanks to the many volunteers who put in such long hours today. Ruby was still resting on the beach as darkness fell, along with a third pup who came ashore near her during the afternoon. It looks like Ruby has found a friend, who has been nicknamed Buddy. A very happy St. Paddy’s indeed!
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