Season of Seal Babies Again on Oregon Coast: Cause for Warnings
(Seaside, Oregon) – Seal pup season has arrived again on the Oregon coast, as the Seaside Aquarium and the Marine Mammal Stranding Network responded to the groups' first harbor seal baby of the year this week.
Tiffany Boothe of Seaside Aquarium passed on these photos of the spring's initial offering of adorableness. But it also brought cause for a warning from coastal officials.
While cute and cuddly beyond belief, you absolutely have to let these little ones alone.
Boothe said that well-meaning people sometimes think that a baby seal alone on the beach has been abandoned, but this is not the case. The mother is often nearby, watching, but will not approach with people around. If the baby seal is moved, it has no chance of reuniting with its mother.
“Mammal researches have found that most pups reunite with their mothers after appearing to be ‘abandoned’ for many hours,” Boothe said. “Well-meaning people who remove seal pups from beaches are eliminating the possibility of the pup being reunited with their mother. These people are also violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and they may face criminal and or civil penalties.
“The best thing for you to do is to keep well away from this seal pup thereby reducing stress on the pup and/or alarming its mother.”
The aquarium has dealt with some especially dim-witted members of the public in the past when it comes to harbor seal pups. One year, aquarium manager Keith Chandler had to track down a nearly newborn and finally discovered it had been taken to someone's hotel room, where they had placed it in a bathtub.
Another example of bad behavior happened in 2007. A newborn – only a foot long – had been spotted in three different beaches just south of Cannon Beach. Numerous beach-goers picked it up and tried to put it back in the surf. This could’ve caused the pup serious harm, if these actions had somehow spooked the mother or otherwise caused the seal to get lost from her.
If it a seal pup is on the beach, Boothe said you can be sure it is resting – and probably in need of a lot of rest. She said they are like all babies: they simply need a lot of sleep.
By going near a resting pup or picking it up, you actually could get it killed. This is why when the Seaside Aquarium - or any section of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network along the coast – responds to such calls they set out “do not disturb” signs around, and maybe even rope the area off.
Anyone who observes incidents of seal pup harassment, or animals in distress, should call the Oregon State Police at 1-800-452-7888.
More photos of this seal from Boothe below.
More baby seal photos from previous years from Boothe:
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