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Baby Seals Popping Up Around Washington / Oregon Coast - Caution Advised

Published 05/16/21 at 6:55 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Baby Seals Popping Up Around Washington / Oregon Coast - Caution Advised

(Oregon Coast) – Little baby harbor seals are showing up all over the Oregon coast and it’s time again for Oregon officials to issue the warning: stay away from baby seals.

Seaside Aquarium’s Tiffany Boothe said they are currently monitoring three different pups in their area, which includes parts of the south Washington coast down through Rockaway Beach.

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“Seal pups are popping up left and right,” Boothe said. “If you come across a seal pup on the beach be sure to give it plenty of space to rest and if there are not signs already posted give us a call (503) 738-6211.”

What numbers do you call if you find a stranded seal pup? Oregon State Police non-emergency numbers are good but make sure you do not use 911. On the north Oregon coast and southern Washington coast, call the Seaside Aquarium at 503-738-6211. The Marine Mammal Hotline at 1.800.452.7888 is best for the southern Oregon coast, or all of the state if you cannot remember the other numbers. On the northern Washington coast, the greater West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network line at 1.866.767.6114 is your best bet.

For State Police on the northern half of Oregon: 800-442-0776. For the southern half (below Reedsport): 800-442-2068.

“Oregon and Washington typically see harbor seals born throughout spring and into late summer, while California may see pups early as February,” Boothe said. “These young animals use time on land to regulate body temperature and rest while their mothers hunt nearby. However, the mother may not return if humans are too close. Thus, wildlife experts suggest giving seal pups plenty of space, observe them from a distanced and while they are absolutely adorable do not touch.”

Boothe said 99% of the time their mothers are close. They go by smell, so if a human approaches not only can it scare off the momma but the smell left by a human on her baby may spook her as well. A pup may stay in place for a few days, with the mother showing up at night to feed the baby.

There have been some outrageous instances of humans interfering in the past. Seaside Aquarium’s Keith Chandler told Oregon Coast Beach Connection there was one incident where he had to enter a hotel room and retrieve a baby seal the occupants had put in bathtub water.

Simpson Reef / Cape Arago - photo courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast

“Female seals birth annually after an eleven-month gestation and utilize familiar coastal shores or estuary areas with easy access to water to have their pups,” Boothe said. “New seals can immediately swim but stay close and ride on their mothers back while they mature.”

As tempting as it is to even watch these from afar, perhaps a few hundred feet away, it’s still not a good idea because it may spook the mom. However, there are places on the southern Oregon coast where you can watch them safely at a distance, where it won’t disturb the parent.

Even into early summer seals can be seen with their young in places like Shore Acres State Park. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) said that area offers several trails that skirt the bluffs along the shoreline, thus giving you opportunities to see them as well as other wildlife.

“Be careful not to get too close to the bluffs when looking for wildlife - falling can be dangerous and deadly,” ODFW said.

Rocky areas like this on the south Oregon coast are excellent for checking out nesting seabirds, harbor seals, and sea lions. ODFW suggested to keep a watch from Cape Arago State Park, where many seals and sea lions use Simpson’s Reef and the Shell Island area, seen from the park.

“Now is a great time to visit the lookout at Simpson’s Reef, which offers a great view of these animals,” ODFW said. MORE PHOTOS BELOW

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Photos below courtesy Seaside Aquarium

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