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Oregon Coast Drama This Weekend: Baby Seal Bitten by Dog, Whale Needs Rescue


Covering 180 miles of Oregon coast travel: Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway, Garibaldi, Tillamook, Oceanside, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Wadport, Yachats & Florence.


Secrets of the Season

Oregon Coast Drama This Weekend: Baby Seal Bitten by Dog, Whale Needs Rescue

Baby seal photos by Tiffany Boothe, Seaside Aquarium

(Oregon Coast) – It all started with two newborn seals on the north coast getting picked up when they shouldn’t have, and ended with a rush of activity on the north coast – including a whale getting caught in crab pots on the central coast.

Two newborn seals caused a raucous over the weekend, with both getting manhandled by humans, further illustrating the need for humans to leave them alone.

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The longest running drama revolved around a baby seal, perhaps less than a day old, which showed up at Cannon Beach on Thursday evening. By Friday morning, the newborn – with its umbilical still attached – had wandered about a mile down the ocean to Arcadia Beach. It was picked up several times by humans there, which is against the law.

Then the little guy showed up at Hug Point, another mile or so down the beach, where it was apparently attacked by a dog.

Keith Chandler, manager of Seaside Aquarium, said a well-meaning man picked up the baby seal and took it to Mo’s Restaurant in Cannon Beach, which in turn eventually contacted Chandler.

“The seal had bite wounds on it, on both sides,” Chandler said. “It looked like the dog just grabbed it and shook a bit. It was bleeding from both sides, but it didn’t sound like the wounds were life threatening.”

Chandler said the man was instructed to take the seal back to Hug Point, where it was found, as the mother would likely be looking for it soon.

“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,” said Tiffany Boothe, an education specialist with the aquarium.

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Meanwhile, Chandler was contacted on Saturday by the U.S. Coast Guard in Newport to report a whale caught in crab pots just offshore from that town. A lone fisherman came across the sitauation and spent some time trying to extricate it from the crab pots, but ran out of light. Coast Guard officials were not sure if it had sank and died or freed itself. See the full story here.

Whale breaching on north coast (photo: Boothe)

“It was an eventful weekend,” Chandler said, a little exhausted by the run of mammal corpses, whales, and baby seals being manhandled.

Earlier on Friday, the baby seal had caused a bit of stir when it showed up at Arcadia Beach. There, beachgoers repeatedly picked it up and tried to place it back in the surf, Boothe said. This could’ve caused the pup serious harm, if it somehow spooked the mother or otherwise caused the seal to get lost from her.

This is a perfect example of why beachgoers should not pick up seal pups – besides the fact it’s against the law, Boothe said.

Another serious example of such an intrusion was a similar baby seal that wandered up on the riverfront in Astoria. Late that morning, Astoria Police briefly detained an individual who had picked up the baby seal from the waterfront and was walking around town with it. They took the seal from the man and immediately called the Seaside Aquarium for instructions on what to do.

Boothe said the police department was told to put it back on the waterfront. Police officers weren’t sure about the exact location where the man got the seal from in the first place, but placed it in a spot they estimated was at least close.

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The baby seal near Cannon Beach seemed very energetic during its romp around Arcadia Beach, Boothe. She believed it must have gotten some nourishment from its mother in the middle of the night, somewhere between its initial appearance in Cannon Beach and in Arcadia Beach.

“I saw it climbing around rocks and moving around a lot,” Boothe said. “And it was very vocal.”

Besides the umbilical chord, Boothe noticed something else a little unusual about this newborn’s fur which led her to believe it might’ve been born a little premature.

“Notice how white the fur is on the seal’s body,” she said. “That’s the coast they normally shed while still inside mother’s womb. We think it was a day old, maybe even just hours old.

Whale on the central coast (courtesy Whale Watch Center, Depoe Bay)

“After he sheds that coat, his fur will be silver grey and have spots.”

Boothe said the seal pup obviously wanted to be on the sand. When he was placed in the water, he seemed uncomfortable with the waves and visibly did not want to be there.

Aquarium crewmembers posted a sign by the seal, telling the public to keep away.

“It was really cute,” Boothe said. “I’ll admit that. I almost don’t blame people for wanting to pick it up. But you don’t do that.”

oregon coast lighthouses on dvdMeanwhile, another deceased seal washed up in Cannon Beach on Friday morning, which officials had to briefly deal with. Boothe said someone from the aquarium went out there, figured out the exact location by GPS, determined its condition and made notes, and then left it to the city of Cannon Beach to later bury it.


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“Another problem is that pups or other marine mammals found alive or dead on the beach may pose a potential health risk,” Booth said. “Untrained people coming into contact with these marine mammals risk exposing themselves, domestic animals and marine mammals to various types of diseases.”

Do not approach, touch or disturb this seal pup or any other marine mammal you may find on the shore. To report other incidents of marine mammal standings on Oregon beaches call 1-800-452-7888 with the following information:

  • Your name and a contact telephone number or address
  • Accurate location of the mammal and the time that you last observed the mammal in this location
  • General condition of the animal: apparently healthy, sick or injured, dead, etc.

The Marine mammal Protection Act (MMPA) makes it illegal to harass, hunt, capture, collect, or kill any marine mammal. Violations of the MMPA can result in civil penalties of up to $10,000 or criminal penalties of up to $20,000 or up to 1 year in federal prison.

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Tradewinds Motel, Rockaway Beach. All rooms are immaculate and have TV’s, VCR’s and in-room phones w/ data ports. Oceanfronts have queen bed, a double hide-a-bed, kitchen, cozy firelog fireplace and private deck. Both types sleep up to four people. Others are appointed for a two-person romantic getaway, yet still perfect for those on a budget. Elaborate oceanfront Jacuzzi suite has two bedrooms, kitchen, double hide-a-bed, fireplace and private deck, sleeping as many as six. For family reunions or large gatherings such as weddings, some rooms can connect to create two-room and three-room suites. Some rooms pet friendly. 523 N. Pacific St., Rockaway Beach. (503) 355-2112 - 1-800-824-0938. www.tradewinds-motel.com

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