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Malnourished seal taken from Friday Harbor beach to Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for care
The Marine Mammal Stranding Network removed a malnourished seal pup from a pocket beach below Downriggers Restaurant today and delivered it to Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for care.
Amy Traxler of the stranding network went to the scene about 11:30 a.m., after receiving a call from a whale-watch vessel about the seal. Traxler said she observed the seal from the sidewalk above the beach for about 15 minutes, and decided it was unable to return to the water on its own.
Traxler said the seal was about 5-10 days old, thin and malnourished. She said it weighed about 15 pounds.
Penny Harner, Wolf Hollow's staff rehabilitator, said the seal appeared to be "pretty thin and dehydrated." Wolf Hollow has about 12 seals in its care right now, Harner said.
The Marine Mammal Stranding Network is authorized by the National Marine Fisheries Service to respond to the scene of stranded marine mammals; Wolf Hollow is authorized by NMFS to care for stranded marine mammals.
The pocket beach where the seal was found is a highly trafficked area; it is located below Front Street and the sidewalk that leads from ABC Yacht Sales, Downriggers, Naknek Diving Charters, San Juan Classic Day Sales, San Juan Excursions, San Juan Island Commuter, San Juan Island Marine Center, San Juan Safaris, to Jack Fairweather Park and Friday Harbor Marina.
Mike Close of San Juan Island Marine Center said a crowd gathered on the sidewalk to look at the seal pup, but that no one went down to the beach.
Whale Museum executive director Jenny Atkinson said the person that called the Marine Mammal Stranding Network — (800) 562-8832 — did the right thing.
She said it's common for mother seals to place their pups on beaches while they forage. But they will not come back to reclaim their pup if there is human activity around it.
By law, cetaceans (dolphins, porpoise and whales) and pinnipeds (seals and sea lions) are considered stranded if they are dead or if they are on shore but unable to return to the water, according to the stranding network.
The stranding network should be called to assess an animal if it is on shore, if it is injured or dead.
After delivering the Friday Harbor seal pup to Wolf Hollow, Traxler went to San Juan County Park, where another seal pup was sighted on the beach. That pup, however, looked healthy and had "a good fat layer on it," she said.