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Vulnerable seal pup is regular visitor to Lincoln Park

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Seal pup Colman hauled out once again early yesterday morning at Lincoln Park. Thanks to Stephanie who phoned in the report of the pup sleeping just a foot or so from the main walkway. Seal Sitters’ first responder immediately closed off the small area to public access and people were asked to make a short detour around the back of the pool in the very popular wooded park.

Before support volunteers were able to arrive to help monitor the perimeter, there were 5 overt breaches - walkers with dogs and runners cut through the well-marked tape barrier with “Do Not Enter” and “Resting Seal Pup” signs. Each was insistent that they had not disturbed the seal. Another man was emphatic that he wanted to go in and stand close to the seal again, as he had done before Seal Sitters MMSN arrived.

NOAA recommends a distance of 100 yards from marine mammals and they are protected from harassment by Federal and WA State law. Undisrupted, stress-free rest is crucial to the survival of seal pups who have a 50% mortality rate their first year. Colman is terribly unresponsive to people standing within feet of him - and that is of great concern and may well indicate underlying health issues. Just because Colman does not react, does not mean he isn’t stressed at such close activity. Seal Sitters MMSN is closely monitoring his health and behavior.

Of grave concern is the fact that Colman is extremely vulnerable to injury from the many illegally off-leash dogs that are at Lincoln Park and on the beaches each and every day. There is no way Colman could escape. Dog behavior cannot be predicted and each, regardless of breed, should be considered a danger to a struggling seal pup.

Seal Sitters volunteers like Laura and daughter Cyrilla (photo) helped keep Colman safe until he (or she) returned to the Sound around 2pm. Thanks to all the volunteers - and wonderful bystanders - who protected Colman yesterday.

At 5pm, Seal Sitters’ first responder investigated a report of a pup at the north end of the park. Due to darkness, she was unable to confirm if the pup was Colman. The pup returned to the water at 5:40.

Please, if you see Colman or another seal pup at Lincoln Park, keep people and dogs well away and call our dedicated hotline at 206-905-SEAL (7235).

Seal pup Colman makes a return appearance

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Early this morning, seal pup Colman was reported sleeping just inches away from the footpath at Lincoln Park. As Seal Sitters’ First Responder walked into the park from the north, a steady stream of people noticed her stakes and assured her that the pup was still there, close to the pool.

Because the pup was practically on the walk, cooperative passersby were diverted around the pool building so that he could rest relatively undisturbed. Most everyone was fine with the detour, however, a few people ignored the yellow tape. Volunteers explained that marine mammals are protected by Federal and Washington State law - NOAA recommends a 100 yard distance when viewing them, both in and out of the water. This is to avoid disrupting foraging and health needs. Disturbance is considered harassment and is punishable by fine. It is critical that seal pups get sufficient rest and are able to warm up out of Puget Sound’s frigid waters.

Colman slept throughout the day, as ferries passed back and forth to Vashon against the backdrop of the Olympic Peninsula. He finally returned to the Sound about 4:45pm. As dusk fell, seasoned young Seal Sitters volunteers Stella and Ruby helped take down the tape perimeter. Thanks to the many volunteers who put in very long hours today to make sure that Colman was safe.

This is a reminder that dogs are not allowed on beaches (leashed or unleashed) at Lincoln Park - or for that matter, ANY public beach in West Seattle. Today, a number of people were asked to please put their dogs on leashes and leave the beach. Each year in Puget Sound, dogs attack and seriously maime - or kill - vulnerable seal pups who cannot move quickly enough to escape. Please, share the shore with seal pups!

As always, if you see a seal pup on the beach, please stay back and call the Seal Sitters hotline immediately at 206-905-SEAL (7325).

Seal pup rests on a foggy morning

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Early this gray and foggy morning, Seal Sitters’ hotline operator Larry received a call about a seal pup on the pebbled beach at Lincoln Park. First responder Lynn made the long trek into the park and was dismayed to see the very alert pup only about 6 feet from the public walkway. She set up a tape perimeter and asked the folks who had gathered there to please be as quiet as possible and keep moving. Then, Lynn settled in to observe the pup’s behavior and body condition. Thankfully, the pup exhibited no coughing or discharge (which can be an indication of parasite and viral loads) and had decent body weight - by no means chunky, but on the other hand, not horribly thin.

Because the pup was so close to onlookers and so alert to the disturbance, access to that small section of sidewalk was eventually closed off and pedestrians and cyclists were instead funneled around the back of Colman Pool. The public was quite amicable to giving the pup, nicknamed Colman, some quiet time. Everyone was more than willing to go just a little out of their way to ensure he could rest and warm up - and not be scared back into Puget Sound.

Around 10:30, Colman made his way to the tideline and swam off. After numerous storms the past week, there was quite a bit of woody debris just offshore and the pup tried unsuccessfully to crawl up onto some floating driftwood. Finally, he succeeded in wriggling up onto a very long pole which was drifting north along the beach. As volunteers walked out of the park, they saw hitchhiker Colman, still perched on his safe vessel, sail off into the fog.
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