Updated at 7:50 p.m. Sunday with a second seal pup incident.
See a young seal pup on the beach? Leave it alone, and stay at least 100 feet away.
That’s the reminder from Susan Morrow of the Edmonds Seal Sitters, who said that over the weekend, young harbor seal pups have been hauling out along stretches of Marina Beach. “Unfortunately, before assistance arrived, some of these vulnerable pups have been crowded by people taking photographs,” she said.
Late Sunday afternoon, a healthy harbor seal pup hauled-out in front of the Seniors’ Center on Olympic Beach, Morrow said. Large crowds stopped to look at the seal, which became a crowd control problem at times, she said. An on-duty beach ranger and two Seal Sitters responded to assist.
“Please stay 100 feet back from seals!” Morrow said. “They come ashore to rest and regulate their body temperature, not because they are sick or lost.” The best course of action? “Take look at young seals and move on,” Morrow advised. “Crowds stress these young animals, and may cause the mother seal to abandon her pup.”
On Saturday afternoon, Edmonds Seal Sitters evaluated a seal pup on Marina Beach that was underweight with an apparent injury, and transported the young animal to PAWS for rehabilitation, Morrow said. “Please remember it is a federal crime for the general public to interfere with or move a seal; you must be an authorized NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) agent to make these determinations — for your safety and that of the seal.”
On a happier note, Morrow shared that a seal pup hauled-out on Marina Beach Saturday evening “right in the middle of the annual Beach Rangers Moonlight Beach Adventure. This was a great, if unexpected, teaching opportunity for the Rangers, who managed the situation very well,” she added.
If you really want to help harbor seal pups, Morrow said, become a Seal Sitter. Edmonds Seal Sitter training is set for 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27, at Frances Anderson Center, 700 Main St., Edmonds. RSVP to: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 206-695-2277.