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Fur Seal, Caught in Net, Rescued on N. Oregon Coast, Arch Cape

Published 07/04/21 at 7:45 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Fur Seal, Caught in Net, Rescued on N. Oregon Coast, Arch Cape

(Arch Cape, Oregon) – Finding one kind of seal on the Oregon coast that doesn't live here is becoming increasingly frequent, and just that happened again this weekend as the Seaside Aquarium came to the rescue of a Guadalupe fur seal that was entangled in a net. Considered a threatened species, it's about the 10th time or so in three years the aquarium has had to rescue this type of seal. (All photos courtesy Seaside Aquarium's Tiffany Boothe)

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The aquarium's Tiffany Boothe said they received the call about 11 a.m. on Saturday that a fur seal was resting on the beach. Responding to the scene shortly after, the crew found the seal high up on a rock just beyond the tideline, forcing them to wait until low tide to retrieve the animal. It was entangled in a sizable net, causing it obvious distress.

“Once the rock became accessible they were able to safely get to the animal, capture it, and place it in an animal carrier for transport,” Boothe said. “The fur seal will be transported to a licensed rehabilitation facility for a full veterinary health assessment, disentanglement, and stabilization. If all goes as planned, the animal will be released back into the ocean once it is healthy.”

This incident also illustrates why you should not try to help these distressed creatures yourselves - why Oregon coast officials are adamant you call these incidents in to professionals. Boothe said another individual had tried to disentangle the fur seal a couple of days earlier and only made the situation worse.

Reports came in on July 1 that the fur seal had made it onto a beach. Before aquarium personnel could respond, someone tried to remove the net and wound up frightening the creature, which fled back into the ocean.

“The aquarium would like to remind everyone that even if it seems like a good idea, it is best to let trained responders deal with marine mammal emergency situations,” Boothe said. “If you see a marine mammal trapped in netting the best thing you can do for the animal is give it plenty of space, keep dogs away, and call the West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network at 1-866-767-6114.”

With other pinnipeds like harbor seals and sea lions, they have robust populations on the Oregon and Washington coast, so the official policy is to let nature takes its course to ensure a healthy population. However, with Guadaulpe fur seals, since their population is estimated to be only around 32,000 individuals, special exceptions are made for this species.

Guadalupe fur seals are not common up around the Oregon coast and in fact normally live in warmer waters, with a range of Guadalupe to California. They apparently follow warm water currents up from California and not unlike sea turtles they get a little cold stunned when they run into the colder currents of this region.

Over the last three years, the number of reports received by the Seaside Aquarium has increased quite a bit, just in the aquarium's territory of Rockaway Beach to Long Beach, Washington alone. One year, the aquarium said it either dealt with or heard about ten. Entanglement issues are also often part of the sightings, including one that had a rope stuck around its neck. That was one assisted back to its home in South America. MORE PHOTOS BELOW

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Below, the fur seal from 2019 with a rope around its neck before it was rescued

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