Protect Popeye and people | Letter from port

On Thursday evening Aug. 10, a guest in the Friday Harbor Marina was bitten on the arm by Popeye the seal. The guest was resting his arm on the edge of his boat and not feeding or interacting with the harbor seal. We do not know what led to the bite but prior to this event, the Port had been cooperating with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, local businesses, and the Marine Mammal Stranding Network to discourage the feeding of wildlife at the marina. It is our hope and intention that we make future incidents like this less likely by proactively engaging with our guests about the hazards posed by feeding wildlife at the marina.

Popeye has been a beloved visitor to the Friday Harbor Marina for decades. This had led to the misconception that Popeye will suffer if she is not fed by people. While she has become accustomed to receiving food from visitors, she remains highly capable of feeding in the wild and continues to do so for long stretches each year. The Port is currently working with partner agencies and local businesses to place educational signage and materials in the marina. Without exception, the residents and guests of Friday Harbor want what is best for Popeye and our other wild inhabitants. The goal of our educational effort is to assure people that not feeding wildlife, including Popeye, is actually healthier and safer for both the animals and our guests.

The Port of Friday Harbor and the Marine Mammal Stranding Network appreciate all of the public and local business support in our efforts to safeguard our guests, Popeye, and other wildlife at the marina.

Todd Nicholson

Port director