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Pupsicle rests briefly onshore

Just after noon yesterday, hotline operator Sharon fielded a call about a seal pup onshore at Alki Beach. The reporting party and her daughter agreed to stay at the site until a first responder could arrive. Within minutes, responders David and Eilene were on the scene with stranding materials. The skittish and alert pup went back into the water, but turned around and immediately returned to the beach. A quick and extensive perimeter was set on the sand to provide a protective area for the pup to rest. The anxious pup, however, left the beach and swam off into Puget Sound.

Two hours later, Seal Sitters volunteers Chris and L.A. were out for a walk and noticed a pup near the water’s edge at a location further south. A quick call to the hotline and first responders were back in their car, headed out on the second response of the day. A tape perimeter was established to prevent access to the pup, nicknamed Pupsicle. Seal Sitters volunteers arrived to educate passersby about the resting pup and a spotting scope was set up on the seawall which enabled a closeup view from a safe distance away. One family inquired if they could “pet” the seal and it was explained that all marine mammals are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, preventing harassment - which includes touching, feeding and moving a seal. Seals also fall under the protection of Washington State law.

All wild animals, such as this weaned seal pup estimated to be 4-5 months old, can and will bite and can transmit disease. Undisrupted rest, free from stress, is critical for a seal pup’s survival. Pupsicle was on the thin side and returned to the water around 3:40 with the incoming tide. A comparison of photos revealed that the two responses were indeed to the same pup.
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