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Fur Seal Rescued from Central Oregon Coast Beach, Recovering at Aquarium

Published 07/25/22 at 6:59 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Fur Seal Rescued from Central Oregon Coast Beach, Recovering at Aquarium

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(Lincoln City, Oregon) – The Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport has taken in a stranded and injured Guadalupe fur seal to nurse it back to health after it was found on Salishan Beach next to Lincoln City. A citizen spotted the creature recently on the Salishan Spit and called it into the Marine Mammal Stranding Network in Newport, and together with the aquarium and the SeaLife Response, Rehabilitation, and Research (SRR) group it was transported to the Newport facility for further care. (Photos courtesy Jim Rice, Marine Mammal Stranding Network and Oregon Coast Aquarium)

Aquarium spokesman Courtney Klug said it's a yearling male, meaning it's still within a year old. Guadalupe fur seals are a threatened species protected by law in the U.S., giving this situation some urgency. The seal was caught in marine debris and showed signs of lethargy, which caused Jim Rice of the network to determine it required additional care and sent it to the aquarium after disentangling the creature.

There, aquarium staff found the seal suffering from extreme fatigue and unable to feed itself, which is common when they become tangled in debris. This seal was greatly dehydrated and emaciated, Klug said. It also had numerous wounds from rubbing against the debris, which had to be treated with antiseptics. Staff gave him plenty of fluid and nutrients as part of the treatment.

Guadalupe fur seals live in waters off southern California and the Pacific coast of Mexico, and are often observed feeding in Oregon coast waters. However, they do not show up often on land. Usually if they are seen here it's because of molting (a painful process where a young Guadalupe fur seal changes coats) or because they are injured.

Fur Seal Rescued from Central Oregon Coast Beach, Recovering at Aquarium

Sometimes they wind up following food sources up into the Northwest. They occasionally travel long distances as they follow warm water currents and suddenly become shocked by the cold as they enter the waters of the Oregon coast and Washington coast.

Through the 1800s, the species was heavily hunted for their thick layer of fine fur, to the point of near-extinction. Since the 1950s, they’ve been protected by law in both the U.S. and Mexico, including the Endangered Species act and Marine Mammal Protection Act.

“This Guadalupe fur seal’s survival is thanks to the dedication and collaboration of private citizens, volunteers, and wildlife professionals and facilities,” Klug said. “[The Aquarium] is committed to Oregon’s marine wildlife, and will continue these efforts with the belief that even one saved animal can help species recovery.”

The goal is to eventually release this yearling back into the wild.

If you see a stranded marine mammal, note its location and report it to the Oregon State Police Tipline at 800-452-7888, and the Marine Mammal Stranding Network at 1-866-767-6114.

To increase its capacity for wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, the Oregon Coast Aquarium is building a new Marine Rehabilitation Center, Klug said.

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Photos below of previous Guadalupe fur seal rescues courtesy Seaside Aquarium


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