Saturday, December 21, 2013

First pups!

Pups were born on the beach at the viewpoint this week. At least three were there by Friday evening.
This mother was resting comfortably with her new baby. No one had observed him nursing yet, but both looked good and will no doubt get on with life soon.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Sea lion rescue

A small sea lion was stranded on the south beach at the rookery on Thursday. My husband Gordon and I were on the team that rescued him and brought him to the Morro Bay Marine Mammal Center facility for treatment.

He looked pretty bad on the beach.
Fortunately, there weren't many seals near him. That makes it possible for people to get down on the beach and retrieve him. That's him, the little dot at the center of the photo.
As soon as he saw the animal carrier, though, he wanted to escape. Either someone has tried to rescue him before, or he was reading our minds.
One of the rescuers threw a net over him to keep him from going back into the water. Another held a herding board to contain him.
He mustered energy to try to escape.
They got the carrier down over the cliff.
He went into the carrier without any trouble, but the net was caught on his nose.
They got him untangled so they could secure the door and let him settle down.
They hauled the carrier back up the cliff
and over the fence.
He made the trip back to Morro Bay in the back of the pickup. Once there, he snapped at his rescuers but they were able to give him some subcutaneous fluids to sustain him. No diagnosis yet as to what's wrong with him. His back was very twisted and he seemed unable to move his left side.

In the spirit of the season, he was named Elf.

Update: Unfortunately, he was too sick and did not survive the night. MMC vets will perform a necropsy to determine what was wrong with him.

Monday, December 2, 2013


Seals entangled in plastic lines and straps are not uncommon. Today, one seal that has been released from an entanglement was on the beach, and a crew of Marine Mammal Center workers were planning to free another.

These photos show Gordo, a seal who was freed from the plastic that was killing him in July 2013. He's tagged as a result of his previous encounter, and his scar is distinctive, so it's certainly the same seal. He sure looks better than he did when he was found suffering on the Big Sur coast!

It's amazing that seals can have such serious injuries and survive them, to thrive in the difficult and dangerous ocean.

Rescuers from the Marine Mammal Center searched the beach until they found another seal that was reported with a plastic strap around his neck. He was about 200 yards south of the south end of the Piedras Blancas boardwalk.
He's in the center of this photo, with the strap obvious around his neck. Lisa Harper Henderson, site manager for the Morro Bay Marine Mammal Center facility, reports that the team later found "The entanglement was yet another packing strap." 

The seal was a male about five years old, weighing about 160 kilograms, 350 pounds. Rescuers were able to cut the strap, but skin had grown around it on the underside, embedding it in the flesh. "We do not pull on embedded materials because we could cause more harm, such as bleeding if a vein is involved," she said. 

The seal had about eight inches of white packing strap flapping loose on his neck when they were done. Normal recovery should allow the area to heal and the strap to fall off on its own. I'll keeep an eye out for him and post a photo when I find him,. 

Entanglements are tragic, slow death for the seals, the result of our careless trash in the ocean. My hope is that every person who visits the elephant seals comes away committed to reducing the trash and pollution of the ocean.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Shark ping!

Duke, a 17-foot great white, is the first tagged shark to swim close enough to the buoy to register his presence! Welcome.
 There are plenty of subadults and juveniles still on the beach.

This one adult was the only one on the beach last week.

They're enjoying resting together.