May/28/13 10:40 PM
Three very happy seals, one adult and two pups, stretched and posed on a platform just offshore from Alki Beach today. In typical harbor seal fashion, they arched their tails and flapped their flippers, circulating warmth through their bodies -a behavior known as thermoregulation.
Both weaned pups looked chubby and healthy, a very welcome sight on a drizzly May afternoon. The Alki platforms have been frequented lately by a number of seals who are able to rest undisturbed by people and dogs.
Soon, a new wave of seal pups will be born in South Puget Sound as pupping season gets underway in mid-late June. We could see pups on West Seattle’s shores as early as July. There was an unconfirmed report of a premature pup at Ballards’ Golden Gardens recently. As always, if you come across a pup onshore, stay back and call Seal Sitters’ hotline at 206-905-7325 (SEAL).
Feb/07/11 09:29 PM
Seal Sitters received calls late this morning from concerned citizens regarding a marine mammal “entangled” approximately 100 yards offshore at Lincoln Park. Our responder followed up on the report, but as she suspected, it was three California sea lions snoozing in the water. Often sea lions sleep in small or large groups - a behavior called rafting -
with only a flipper or tail visible to help them regulate their body temperature. Periodically, a nose will pop out of the water briefly for a breath and then disappear. It is an unnerving sight to those who are not familiar with the behavior.
Nov/06/10 09:24 PM
Today was a crazy day for Seal Sitters trying to protect four seal pups in different locations in West Seattle. Two pups seem to be newcomers on our beaches, Pudge and Ancora. Pudge is a dark brown seal with white markings whom we thought might be one of two similar seals we have protected this season. But indeed, Pudge is new to our beach and rested on the rocks at high tide on the Alki side before moving farther down the beach. Ancora hauled out at Luna Point and gave us a bit of concern in the early morning with some coughing episodes. However, she rested comfortably for many hours on the warm sand (shown in the photo thermoregulating
). And ET extends his boatramp haul out streak to 7 consecutive days. His patterns are changing a bit, however, which is a good thing and possibly an indication that his flipper wounds are less troublesome for him. He is coming and going from the ramp with shorter resting times. Queen Latifah entertained onlookers at her usual spot on the rocks. Seal Sitters volunteers were kept busy from early morning til early evening - another long day.
May/18/10 11:24 PM
(please see most recent health update at the end of this post)
A very alert male seal enjoyed the warm sun at the newest pinniped hot spot: the boat ramp. Here he is shown thermoregulating a bit, stretching and curling his flippers and tail. Comparison of markings have identified him as the same seal that had a bloody wound on May 4th. It was not possible today to see the spot where the wound had been located. It is encouraging that he was so animated and appeared generally healthy, but was still a bit too thin (although you’d never guess it from this photo).
Barricades were placed at the entrance to each dock with information about the Marine Mammal Protection Act and seal behavior, warning the public to give him space to rest. We’ll keep an eye out for him tomorrow in hopes of seeing if the wound has fully healed. Should you see him on the ramp or elsewhere on shore, please call dispatch @ 206-905-7325 (SEAL).
(update May 21, 1 pm)
This seal has been returning to the boat ramp for rest over the past two days. There is no longer any evidence of blood on his right hip, so that older wound has apparently healed. There is, however, some blood this afternoon near the joint of his left flipper. It‘s really tough out there for a wild animal - foraging for prey and being a prey animal yourself. All the more reason for people to keep their distance so he can snooze and gain strength. Hopefully, this skinny guy will pack on some pounds!
Feb/21/10 07:55 PM
A California sea lion created concern among Lincoln Park beach walkers today. The sea lion was regulating his body temperature (“thermoregulation”) by floating and raising his flippers out of the water, a behavior called “sailing.” This is often mistaken for injury or illness and even sometimes reported to authorities as an injured orca or other whale. The sight was particularly disturbing to onlookers following the recent shootings of sea lions in our area. When a number of sea lions group together and exhibit this behavior, sometimes sleeping with their noses just above water, it is termed “rafting”. In the winter of 2007, an estimated 200 sea lions “rafted” off Jack Block Park, flooding the NOAA Stranding Hotline with calls reporting an “orca pod” in Elliott Bay.
So, what exactly is thermoregulation? Sea lions and other pinnipeds have a system of veins and arteries that transfer heat to the rest of their bodies and organs. By extending their flippers out of the water, the blood in that less insulated part of the body absorbs heat from the sun or warmer air, and circulates it through the body to their internal organs. Conversely, on a hot day, you may see a sea lion with flippers to the wind, cooling the blood which then circulates and reduces body temperature. Read more about sea lions
on our website.