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Seal pup comes ashore to rest in West Seattle

After a 6 week drought in West Seattle with no seal pups, Seal Sitters first responders were getting antsy wondering when we’d get a call. Finally, we received word that a pup had been on the public access beach at Jack Block Park yesterday afternoon about 3pm. Unfortunately, the pup had been scared back into the water. SS volunteers searched the area in case the pup had sought another nearby location, but to no avail.

At approximately 6pm, our dedicated hotline 206-905-7325 (SEAL) rang with a report that the pup had returned again to that same small beach. The pup came ashore less than 50 feet from some people flying kites on the pebbled shore. Seal Sitters’ first responder arrived on the scene within minutes and quickly closed off access and began a health assessment through observation with binoculars. The sidewalk above the resting pup was cordoned off to lessen disturbance. The small, thin pup promptly fell asleep in the waning sunlight.

A call was placed to our volunteer scheduler for the day who checked the online calendar to see what volunteers had entered time for the evening. There, she found listed brand new volunteers Laura and Chris, who enthusiastically arrived to assist in their first experience protecting a seal pup.

The park was quite busy last evening and volunteers had an opportunity to share info with a number of interested people. Among those, were 8-year old Jack and his 4-year old brother Charlie who were fascinated by the slumbering pup and named him Francis, after the saint known for protecting all animals. This little pup could use a little extra blessing to help him (or her) pack on some much-needed blubber for warmth and energy.

More than 90% of all the seal pups in South Puget Sound have been born and a high percentage are already weaned. Based on body weight and condition, we believe that Francis is most likely one of them. However, it its difficult to tell for sure without confirmation of how many teeth have erupted. Weaned at only 4-6 weeks, pups then must fend for themselves with no mom for support. It can be a difficult transition. They can lose quite a bit of weight in a short time and must turn things around quickly to avoid the 50% mortality faced in their first year.

Francis was still sleeping on the beach at 9pm and volunteers left as the Port Police came through the Park and then locked the entry gate. Seal Sitters’ first responder checked the shore at 6am when the park reopened and Francis was gone - hopefully, out grabbing a big breakfast of small fish and squid! We anticipate the pup will be back on shore today, trying to rest and warm up. If you see a pup onshore, please call our hotline ASAP and stay back. Undisrupted rest is critical for all seal pups’ survival.
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