Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pups persevere

It's difficult to discern, but there is a pup on the grass, just right of center in this picture. He's that dark spot. He's on a ledge about four feet above the rest of the beach. That's where the mothers and other pups are. Some of them are quite large, already weaned. That's them, the line of dark forms at the upper right. The larger ones are females, lighter in color, next to their dark pups. All pups are born black.

But this pup appears to have climbed up to a higher perch. The problem is, he's separated from his mother. Pups need to nurse frequently. They have to gain about 300 lbs. in a month, before their mothers go back into the ocean. If pups get separated from their mothers, they can starve and die.

This pup looked weak, and another docent called Marine Mammal Rescue to report it. MMR will intervene and rescue starving pups, but even they are not permitted to go onto the beach during the birth and mating season.

This is a close-up of the pup. It's hard to tell that the other seals are below it.

He rested in the grass and didn't behave as if he were in any distress. We typically don’t intervene in natural events as they play out on the beach,

The pup began to show signs of life. He wiggled around, and eventually wiggled himself right off the ledge! He dropped down, startled but unhurt. On the beach, he might find his mother.

He began making the rounds, attempting to nurse at every female in his path. Two chased him off, but he continued on. When I left, he was on the beach, heading toward other mothers.

As alarming as the situation looked earlier, and as pathetic as he appeared, my feeling is that he will find a receptive female and be fine. So many situations look just awful in the moment, but over time, they resolve. It’s easy to think that these pups are helpless, but they have some strong instincts going for them and a powerful drive to survive. I hope he slept on a full stomach that night.

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