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Shamrock and other seal pups lucky to have caring public

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Seal pup Shamrock and other West Seattle seal pups like rehab Ruby are so lucky to have such caring people with a common desire of protecting them. Harbor seals in other areas are not so lucky at all - most especially at a harbor seal haulout and rookery at Casa Beach (also known as Children’s Pool) in La Jolla, California. People are allowed on the beach, causing seals to regularly flush the haulout which endangers the lives of newborn pups and causes undue stress to resting seals.

A small number of residents of the affluent community want the seals removed from the beach so it can become a public swimming beach - they regularly harass the seals. Casa Beach is one of only four harbor seal rookeries left on the Southern California coast. There are many, many public beaches along the nearby coast for humans to enjoy, including one within walking distance of Casa Beach.

Recently, a web cam was established there to enable the public to view moms giving birth on the beach - harbor seal pupping season is in full swing in Southern California. The night vision camera recently caught two women beating and sitting on seals, many of them pregnant, and the incident has caused outrage. NOAA has not been yet been able to identify and prosecute the women.

Yesterday, the mayor of San Diego, Bob Filner, ordered the beach closed to people at night. However, people are still allowed down on the beach during the day - and harbor seals are just a few feet away giving birth or nursing their young.

Seal Sitters has covered this story since our lead investigator visited the rookery in 2008. Read our complete coverage of this controversial situation on our website. And, please email Mayor Filner thanking him for closing the beach at night, but encouraging him to close Casa Beach (Children’s Pool) year-round to people and preserve this wildlife treasure. The public has an unparalled view from the sea wall and sidewalk above the haulout.

Our West Seattle seal pups are so very, very lucky to have a stranding network (with a supportive NOAA Northwest office) and public committed to keeping them safe while on our shores. We know that undisturbed rest is critical to harbor seals’ survival and they will be protected under our communal watch.

Shamrock doing a jig around West Seattle

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Weaned harbor seal pup Shamrock, who first hauled out on St. Patrick’s Day at the public access beach at Jack Block Park, has been making her way around the West Seattle peninsula. Very early yesterday morning, the hotline received a report of a pup resting on the beach just south of the water taxi landing. Photo comparisons showed it was indeed Shamrock. She returned to Elliott Bay early afternoon.

About 2 pm the hotline rang again with another call about a pup that had come ashore at Duwamish Head. The caller kindly kept curious people at bay until our responder could arrive shortly thereafter. Shamrock had moved to the north! Volunteers taped off the beach access and the seawall above her and she snoozed soundly until early evening before swimming off in search of dinner.

This morning, one of our volunteers out walking his dog, noticed a pup on the beach below the sidewalk at Emma Schmitz Viewpoint Park (Me Kwa Mooks). Our first responder was there in minutes, taping off the entrances to the beach stairs so that Shamrock could rest undisturbed. Shamrock is looking too thin, but her activity moving to and from beaches is encouraging - and she is most certainly keeping our first responders and volunteers on their toes! She finally returned to Puget Sound around 5pm this evening.

Please keep your eyes open for this sweet little pup, especially along the beaches of Lowman and Lincoln Park. If you are a waterfront homeowner, please make sure to give our hotline a headsup if you have a pup on your beach tomorrow. We are monitoring Shamrock’s health since she seemed to be thinner today. Thanks to our dedicated volunteers, many of them just trained last weekend, who have protected her the past few days in cold (and often wet) conditions!

St. Paddy's pinniped party in West Seattle

St. Patrick’s Day festivities started early this morning for Seal Sitters’ responder Lynn who was doing a routine check of Jack Block Park beaches. Standing on the observation tower platform shortly after 8am, she noticed rehab pup Ruby, with her bright red flipper tag, haul out onto the inaccessible beach below her. Ruby was only about a week old when she had to be taken to PAWS after repeated harassment by beachcombers in Steilacoom. After a lengthy stay at PAWS to fatten up and learn how to catch fish on her own, she was released back to the wild last October at a harbor seal haulout south of Tacoma. Seal Sitters first sighted her in West Seattle in late January and she has since been a regular visitor along the shoreline of Jack Block. We are excited that she has remained on our beat.

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As Lynn was walking out of the Park, she noticed yet another pup on the public beach, notorious for off leash dogs. She immediately taped off the beach entrance and established a perimeter with sandwich boards and signs. Volunteers were lined up to keep a close eye on the pup, nicknamed Shamrock (shown at right). On this cold and windy day, brand new volunteers (including young volunteers Fionn and Owen) along with more experienced Seal Sitters protected Shamrock until she returned to Elliott Bay late in the day.

Thanks to the many volunteers who put in such long hours today. Ruby was still resting on the beach as darkness fell, along with a third pup who came ashore near her during the afternoon. It looks like Ruby has found a friend, who has been nicknamed Buddy. A very happy St. Paddy’s indeed!
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