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Seal pup has close call with off-leash dog at Seattle park

cha-cha portrait_blubberblog     
Once again, harbor seal pup Cha-cha chose to rest on the beach near Lincoln Park’s Colman Pool yesterday. Seal Sitters Hotline operator Julia called First Responder Robin just before 10 this morning with the report.

The seal pup was found resting at the water’s edge near Point Williams, a popular fishing spot. Robin hustled to get a tape perimeter up to establish a safety zone and considerate fishermen avoided the area within the tape. Volunteer Scheduler Lynn J began making calls, lining up volunteers to fill out what was expected to be a long day. First Responder Lynn arrived at the beach to offer assistance.

For the next few hours, undaunted by rain and breezy conditions, volunteers Molly and Sally answered questions from the public, who had a clear and close-up view of the beautiful pup. Around midday, the weather began to clear. Lots of people thanked us for the work Seal Sitters does and we received many an inquiry about how to volunteer. Leashed dogs of every size and color sat patiently (and received hugs and kisses) at the perimeter while owners chatted with volunteers.

     cha-cha and seagull friend-blog
As the weather improved, crowds increased. Cha-cha was very alert as the many people and children oooohed and ahhhhed from the sidewalk above. A pesky and curious sea gull wondered what the odd furry creature was doing onshore. As the throng dwindled, the pup was finally able to settle in for a long afternoon nap, safe from harm.

The tide crept in and so did the pup, who ended up nestled near the rocks. Volunteers Kristen, Cathy and Todd happily provided information on harbor seal biology and the need for rest in order to stay healthy. Young volunteer Caitlin and her friend Etta assumed a post at the tape perimeter on the beach and pointed out the pup’s position to those willing to walk over the slippery, woody beach for a peek look.

A successful day was almost catastrophic at the end as an uncontrolled, off-leash hunting breed dog dashed under the tape and along the jagged rocks, headed straight for Cha-cha’s hiding place. The dog could definitely smell the seal pup. The owner yelled fruitlessly for the dog to stop. She finally managed to grab the dog’s collar just feet from the vulnerable seal, sound asleep on the beach below and totally unaware of the approaching danger. The woman did not say a word of apology or remorse afterwards and walked away, refusing to leash her dog. Concerned onlookers said she is notorious in Lincoln Park for disrespecting city leash laws and letting her dog run wild. DOGS ARE NOT ALLOWED, LEASHED OR UNLEASHED ON SEATTLE BEACHES.

Thankfully, a crisis was narrowly averted. Each year in Washington, dogs injure or kill harbor seal pups - including last year’s apparent domestic dog attack in West Seattle.

Cha-cha continued to rest onshore until a series of large waves swept over the pup, who swam off in the shimmering waters of Puget Sound around 6pm. Lynn and Robin waited to make sure the pup did not return and then gathered up stranding materials and hiked out of the park at dusk on a beautiful evening.

Rain and rainbows as volunteers protect seal pup on public beach

     cha-cha_blubberblog
Seattle residents are growing more than weary of dreary cold and rainy days. Undoubtedly, harbor seal pups are, too. The turbulent weather, however, didn’t keep a seal pup from seeking rest on the beach in ever-changing weather at Lincoln Park yesterday.

Around 2 pm, Hotline Operator Julia received a report of a pup onshore near Colman Pool. First Responder Robin drove down to the forested park and made the long hike in along the beach, toting a rolling luggage cart complete with cones, sandwich boards and stakes. She spied the fluffy and relatively robust white belly of a pup, resting at the waterline. Up close to the woody debris and with a rapidly incoming tide, it was uncertain how long the pup would linger.

Battling sustained winds and 20 mph gusts, putting up a tape perimeter around the sleeping pup proved a challenging task. Cones and barricades blew over. Tape snapped and whipped in the wind. Despite it all, the pup slept soundly.

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First Responders Dana and Lynn arrived shortly after, talking with passersby and distributing pocket-sized info brochures. In between rain squalls, there were periodic breaks of weak sun and even a gorgeous rainbow (pup location in red circle).

As the tide encroached on the beach, the pup wriggled a few feet up, snuggling against a large brown log. Curious onlookers were able to get a sneak peek of the sleeping pup from behind the tape at each end of the perimeter.

The wind was relentless. As the afternoon wore on, the skies blackened ominously to the southwest behind passing Vashon-Southworth ferries and a lone fisherman, who steadily cast his line into Puget Sound. The pup, nicknamed Cha-cha, slept comfortably, but was alert off and on to activity in the park and wind-fueled waves sweeping the shoreline. When the storm finally hit around 5pm, most people hurriedly left the park.

Cha-cha returned to the water around 5:30. Lynn and Robin gathered materials and hiked out as wind and rain swirled around them - and not a minute too soon - just as the storm hit the shores of Lincoln Park.
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