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Thin pup finds a safe resting place

Yesterday morning our responder found a thin little pup taking a snooze at the base of steps leading down to the beach. Someone had kindly placed one of our barricades at the top of the steps to warn walkers of the pup’s presence. The pup had not been there on a check earlier in the morning.

A tape perimeter was established to prevent people from standing above the pup on the sea wall or entering the small beach. On a rather bitter day, cold volunteers watched over the pup until he returned to Puget Sound around 4:30 in the afternoon - a good, long rest.

Nicknamed Stoney, he was definitely too skinny and appears to have some respiratory issues. As pups lose weight and their immune system is suppressed, they are much more vulnerable to parasitic and viral infections. He slept soundly all day except when the noise from a large truck on Alki Avenue startled him. It was an encouraging sign that once Stoney decided it was time to head back out to forage, he moved rather quickly across the beach down to the water’s edge. Hopefully, he had a substantial dinner of tiny fish, shrimp and squid.

The video clip is a good example of harbor seal locomotion. Unlike sea lions who can rotate their rear flippers to walk on land, harbor seals can only use their small front flippers as they flop-hop in a caterpillar motion. You can see how difficult it would be for a seal pup to escape from a predator (or curious people and dogs) while on shore. We didn’t see Stoney today, but will be on the lookout for him tomorrow.
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