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Guadalupe Fur Seal Found Thin, Distressed on N. Oregon Coast; Rescued (Video)

Published 12/19/20 at 5:35 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Guadalup Fur Seal Found Thin, Stressed on N. Oregon Coast; Rescued (Video)

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(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – A special kind of baby seal needed rescuing on the north Oregon coast Friday, as Seaside Aquarium was dispatched to help out a Guadalupe fur seal (Arctocephalus townsendi) that was stranded at Cannon Beach. (All photos / video courtesy Tiffany Boothe / Seaside Aquarium)

Aquarium personnel got the call about 9 a.m., discovering the seal pup was not in great shape. The Guadalupe fur seal is a threatened species, according to Seaside Aquarium’s Tiffany Boothe, with only an estimated population of 34,000 in the world.

“The little guy was thin, dehydrated and a bit out of its normal range,” Boothe said. “After coordinating with NOAA and a rehab facility in Des Moines, Washington SR3 (Sealife Response, Rehab and Research) Seaside Aquarium staff successfully recovered the seal. After a brief nap at the Seaside Aquarium the little guy was given fluids and transferred to SR3.”

Now, the plan is to get him back into shape and back to his native waters.

“Once stable the Guadulupe fur seal will be transferred to a rehab facility in California and if all goes well eventually released,” Boothe said.

The Guadalupe fur seal is not a common sight on the Oregon coast, Boothe said. This one was far north of where it should be: they normally live in the Pacific waters of northern Mexico and southern California. 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.

Their main natural habitat is Guadalupe Island off the coast of Mexico. Then 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.

“However, during seasonal changes, young pups follow warmer currents and can become stranded in the cold waters off the Oregon coast,” Boothe said. “Unlike our local pinnipeds (sea lions and seals) the fur seal lacks a layer of blubber to regulate body temperature in colder waters. Once sluggish and cold, these warm-water pinnipeds are known to become tangled in rope and debris.”

Boothe said she is grateful the Marine Mammal Stranding Network in Oregon is working so closely with fur seal experts in the Pacific Northwest to help recover these wayward beasties. The Seaside Aquarium has been involved with them since 1995. More photos below:

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