Monday, April 25, 2011

Harbor Seal pups

A woman reported a Harbor Seal pup to the desk clerk at the Blue Whale Motel on Moonstone Beach Drive. The desk clerk reported it to the Marine Mammal Center Friday morning about 10:30. We went out to see what the situation was.

Before we got there, the center called again to tell us the woman was very upset about the abandoned pup, anxious for our arrival. We got that call as we arrived at the boardwalk. We hurried down to the beach.

She and her two daughters, about 13 and 10, waved frantically to us as we arrived. We climbed over the rocks, slippery with seaweed. It was a low tide. The pup was beached at the edge of a tidepool. He was alert and cried a few times. He appeared uninjured.

The girls saw the pup as they walked on the beach with their mother. The younger girl was startled by the pup’s cry. Harbor seal pups' cries sound like a baby. The girls and their mother were alarmed to find him abandoned on the rocks.

He appeared fine to me, so I reassured them and asked them to retreat to the bluff so that we wouldn’t scare the mother away. I pointed out that it was low tide and she might need to wait for the tide to come back in so that she could swim to him. She might have placed him there when the water was higher.

We closed the stairway to the beach and asked other beach walkers to stay away from the area. We watched from the bluff.

An adult seal swam in, lifting her head from the water and looking around. People were still on the beach, and she didn’t stay long. The pup was resting.

After the rest of the beach walkers left, she returned and swam further into the tidepool area. By now, the pup was swimming around the tidepool, splashing in circles. She alerted to his activity as soon as she was near enough to hear and see him, and boosted herself over the rocks to get to the tidepool in which he was stranded. They reunited happily, and she guided him over the rocks, back into the channel that led to the open ocean. She nudged him around to the rocks further out and helped him up.

She was an attendant and concerned mother. She took care of him as soon as the pressure of people on the beach was relieved.

We all breathed a sigh of relief. We spoke to several people along the way. All were delighted to witness this mother-pup reunion.

I didn't have my camera with me. It's just as well, because this way I got to watch the whole drama unfold. I felt instrumental in allowing these animals to live their lives.

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