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March Madness - Seal Sitters "blubberball" goes into overtime

Seal Sitters’ volunteers have been seeing alot of action the past few days, running all around West Seattle protecting the seal pups we lovingly call “blubberballs”. Yesterday morning our hotline received an early call about a pup on Don Armeni boat launch. Sure enough, smack dab in the middle lane was a spotted pup taking a snooze. Our responder quickly grabbed cones, barricades and yellow tape and set a wide perimeter around the pup. Always our biggest challenge, the public boat launch poses many issues for ensuring the safety of a pup - while at the same time, managing to keep the peace with boaters who want to use the launch. Last season, a tragedy was narrowly averted by Seal Sitters’ volunteers as a fisherman launching his craft in the pre-dawn darkness almost ran over a pup while we were setting the perimeter. Thankfully, due to the inclement weather yesterday there were no boats using the ramp and the pup, nicknamed Oreo (yawning and stretching above) by young SS volunteer Elizabeth, had a nice, long rest. That is, until the one lone boat launched late in the afternoon. The disturbance from the boat and trailer caused Oreo to move quickly down to the water’s edge, finally returning to Elliott Bay.

In the meantime, a short distance north of there, a dark pup was discovered resting among the mossy green rocks below the sea wall. An alert dog walker called the hotline, but noticed a woman walking on the beach towards the seal with two off leash dogs. He managed to get her attention and she obligingly leashed her dogs and left the beach. We confirmed that this pup was indeed Paddycake, who had been using Alki Beach a couple of days earlier as well as the stretch of private beach south of there. Paddycake is looking thinner than we would like, but slept safe and sound until the tide forced him back to the cold Elliott Bay waters - we hope to fatten up on some shiner perch.

Seal pups galore in West Seattle

Seal Sitters MMSN is having our busiest “off season” ever. We have made upwards of 40 responses to dead and live pups since the beginning of the year. We are happy to say the vast majority of those are to live pups. Yesterday, the hotline received a call about a pup at Lincoln Park. Unfortunately, there was no pup on shore when our responder arrived within 20 minutes. The entire length of Lincoln Park was searched. According to the satellite map showing rehabbed and tagged pup Sandy’s travels, she was apparently near that location yesterday. This morning, WDFW’s biologist reports that Sandy is all the way up in the Richmond Beach area. The 6 month old female was fitted with a satellite tag (photo left to right: Josh Oliver WDFW, Kristin Wilkinson NOAA and Dyanna Lambourn WDFW) and released to a South Puget Sound location on January 21st following a long rehab at PAWS. Her travels provide insight into the foraging patterns of rehabilitated pups.

Yesterday we also responded to a pup resting on a stretch of private beach. The beautiful dark pup, nicknamed Paddycake (photo right), is the same one that was nearby a few days ago on private beach north of Constellation Park. On that day, Paddycake had been accompanied on the beach by a smaller pup who was scared back into the water by an offleash dog. Please, keep your dog leashed at all times if you insist on taking them (illegally) onto the beach. These weaned seal pups need their rest to survive and dogs pose a danger to them. We have pups still using beaches all over West Seattle.
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