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Oregon Coast Crews Rescue Endangered Seal from Washington Beach

Published 04/25/2019 at 7:53 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Oregon Coast Crews Rescue Endangered Seal from Washington Beach

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(Seaside, Oregon) – An uncommon sight on the Oregon and Washington coast – or at least it's supposed to be – showed up this week on a northwest beach and had to be rescued. Crews from the Seaside Aquarium had to venture up to Oysterville, Washington to help out a stranded Guadalupe fur seal which needed some medical care. (All photos courtesy Tiffany Boothe, Seaside Aquarium).

Guadalupe fur seals are not common up around the Oregon coast and in fact normally live in warmer waters south of here. Yet for some reason Seaside Aquarium has seen about ten of them in the last year, according to manager Keith Chandler.

Education specialist Tiffany Boothe said this one was quite young and in a bit of bad shape.

“The pup was only about 7-10 pounds, cold, dehydrated, and out of its range,” Boothe said. “The male pup was easily captured and is being transferred to the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California, for rehab and eventual release.”

Boothe said Guadalupe fur seals are considered threatened although not technically endangered. There is an estimated population of only 34,000 of these fur seals, and at one time they were quite endangered but managed to bounce back to some degree.

“In fact, their numbers got so low that they were thought to have become extinct twice: once in 1928 and again in 1954,” Boothe said.

It seems the Guadalupe fur seals are traveling northward as they follow warm water currents far offshore, something that puts them in danger as these currents run out around the Oregon border and the water turns cold again. Their typical range is from Guatemala to California.

“They breed exclusively on Guadalupe and the surrounding islands,” Boothe said. “Unlike the pinnipeds (seals and sea lions) that inhabit the coastlines of Oregon and Washington, fur seals do not have a thick layer of blubber to keep them warm. They are equipped with a thick layer of fine fur which prevents heat loss, and by trapping air gives them buoyancy.”

Chandler said the Guadalupe fur seals showing up here in recent months have been both dead and alive.

Back in January, the same kind of fur seal became famous on the internet with a video of Washington cops trying to free it from a rope it was entangled in. It managed to slip away, and the little creature caused a stir as authorities were looking for it to not only check on its condition but take it back down to California for rehabilitation and release.

Seaside Aquarium crews eventually did help rescue that one as well, and the whole tale had a happy ending.

“This animal was also transferred to the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito and has already been released,” Boothe said. “A satellite tag was placed on the animal before releasing it and as of March 27, 2019 the animal was back on Guadalupe Island where it belongs.”

The Seaside Aquarium has been part of the Southern Washington/Northern Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network since 1995. Oregon Coast Lodgings in these areas - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tours











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