Harbor Seal pups are a common sight along Washington’s saltwater coastline at this time of year, and we receive many phone calls from concerned citizens who have sighted pups on the beach. If you find a pup, it is very important that you do not disturb it or attempt to remove it from the beach. Seals and other marine mammals are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. Enforcement of the MMPA is the responsibility of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Fisheries Department. NOAA Fisheries maintains a stranding network that investigates reports of sick, injured or otherwise distressed marine mammals. If NOAA Fisheries determines that a seal pup needs help, PAWS Wildlife Center is often where they send them for care.
In June, PAWS received two distressed pups from a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist who specializes in marine mammals and works closely with NOAA Fisheries. The first pup was admitted June 8, and the second on June 13. Both pups were found, weak and underweight, on the beach in Westport, WA. How the pups became separated from their mothers is unknown, but after several days spent monitoring them from a distance on the beach, it was clear that they had been orphaned or abandoned.
So far, both seal pups have been responding well to care here at PAWS. They have both moved from milk replacer formula to whole fish, and they are steadily putting on weight. If all goes well, they will be returned to the Westport area as healthy, 50+ pound seals later this summer. To learn more about our work with Harbor Seals, visit the marine mammals page on our website.