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Oregon Coast Officials: Stay Away from Seal Pups, You Might Kill Them; Video

Published 03/28/2018 at 6:35 PM PDT - Updated 03/28/2018 at 7:05 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection Staff

(Oregon Coast) – Seal pupping season is about to arrive on the Oregon coast, and officials are bracing for their first report of a stranded young one on the beach. With the busy spring break weeks comes a warning from them: stay away from baby harbor seals. (All baby seal photos courtesy Seaside Aquarium and Tiffany Boothe).

In fact, trying to help them could kill them. They're insanely cute and they look cuddly, but you absolutely have to leave them alone.

The warning comes from several entities, including Lincoln City Visitors Center and the Seaside Aquarium's Tiffany Boothe.

Boothe said that well-meaning people sometimes think that a baby seal alone on the beach has been abandoned, but this is not the case. The mother is often nearby, watching, but will not approach with people around. If the baby seal is moved, it has no chance of reuniting with its mother.

“Mammal researches have found that most pups reunite with their mothers after appearing to be ‘abandoned' for many hours,” Boothe said. “Well-meaning people who remove seal pups from beaches are eliminating the possibility of the pup being reunited with their mother. These people are also violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and they may face criminal and or civil penalties.

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“The best thing for you to do is to keep well away from this seal pup thereby reducing stress on the pup and/or alarming its mother.”

The aquarium has dealt with some especially dim-witted members of the public in the past when it comes to harbor seal pups. One year, aquarium manager Keith Chandler had to track down a nearly newborn and finally discovered it had been taken to someone's hotel room, where they had placed it in a bathtub.

Another example of bad behavior happened in 2007. A newborn – only a foot long – had been spotted in three different beaches just south of Cannon Beach. Numerous beach-goers picked it up and tried to put it back in the surf. This could've caused the pup serious harm, if these actions had somehow spooked the mother or otherwise caused the seal to get lost from her.

Seal pups on the beach are usually – almost always – there to rest. Like any baby, they need a lot of sleep. If you try to help and it spooks the mother away, the seal will likely die.

By trying to help you only ensure its death. This is why when the Seaside Aquarium - or any section of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network along the coast – responds to such calls they set up “do not disturb” signs around, and maybe even rope the area off.

Anyone who observes incidents of seal pup harassment, or animals in distress, should call the Oregon State Police at 1-800-452-7888. Where to stay in these areas - Where to eat - Maps and Virtual Tours - More baby seal photos below courtesy Seaside Aquarium.

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