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Apr-21-2007 00:30printcomments

Newborn Seal Pups Cause Disturbance on Oregon Beach

Aquarium officials say this is a perfect example of why beachgoers should not pick up seal pups - besides the fact it's against the law.

Sea lion pup on beach
Photos: Tiffany Boothe, Seaside Aquarium

(SEASIDE, Ore.) - Two newborn seals caused a stir Friday morning and further illustrated the necessity for humans to leave them alone. Both were apparently newborn seals with their umbilical chords still attached, and both were handled by humans - when they should not have been. Early Friday, a baby seal washed up in Astoria, somewhere on the waterfront. The Seaside Aquarium received several calls about it just before 9:00 AM. They were already in the middle of responding to another newborn seal pup that had wandered up at Cannon Beach the night before, and had been seen on another beach just south of there before 9:00 AM.

By late morning, Astoria Police briefly detained an individual who had picked up the baby seal from the waterfront and was walking around town with it. They took the seal from the man and immediately called the Seaside Aquarium for instructions on what to do.

The aquarium's Tiffany Boothe said the police department was told to put it back on the waterfront. Police officers weren't sure about the exact location that the man got the seal from in the first place, but placed it in a spot they estimated was close. Aquarium officials say this is a perfect example of why beachgoers should not pick up seal pups - besides the fact it's against the law.

Also Friday morning, the other baby seal was resting at Arcadia Beach, a few miles south of Cannon Beach. There, beachgoers repeatedly picked it up and tried to place it back in the surf, Boothe said.

"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. "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." Boothe said the seal pup obviously wanted to be on the sand. When he was placed in the water, he seemed uncomfortable with the waves and visibly did not want to be there. Aquarium crewmembers posted a sign by the seal, telling the public to keep away. Boothe said the pup seemed very energetic during its romp around Arcadia Beach, so she believed it must have gotten some nourishment from its mother in the middle of the night, somewhere between its initial appearance in Cannon Beach and its show in Arcadia Beach. "I saw it climbing around rocks and moving around a lot," Boothe said. "And it was very vocal."

Besides the umbilical chord, Boothe noticed something else a little unusual about this newborn's fur which led her to believe it might have been born a little premature. "Notice how white the fur is on the seal's body," she said. "That's the coat they normally shed while still inside mother's womb. We think it was a day old, maybe even just hours old. "After he sheds that coat, his fur will be silver grey and have spots." Boothe said seal pups are often found resting on shore while their mothers are hunting for food nearby. This is a normal occurrence. The condition and location of this pup has been reported to the Marine Mammal Stranding Network. "Another problem is that pups or other marine mammals found alive or dead on the beach may pose a potential health risk," Booth said. "Untrained people coming into contact with these marine mammals risk exposing themselves, domestic animals and marine mammals to various types of diseases." Do not approach, touch or disturb this seal pup or any other marine mammal you may find on the shore. To report other incidents of marine mammal standings on Oregon beaches call 1-800-452-7888 with the following information: * Your name and a contact telephone number or address; * Accurate location of the mammal and the time that you last observed the mammal in this location. * General condition of the animal: apparently healthy, sick or injured, dead, etc. The Marine mammal Protection Act (MMPA) makes it illegal to harass, hunt, capture, collect, or kill any marine mammal. Violations of the MMPA can result in civil penalties of up to $10,000 or criminal penalties of up to $20,000 or up to 1 year in federal prison.

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KC September 14, 2012 8:58 am (Pacific time)

Clay, what a heartless idiot you are.

Raven April 22, 2007 8:50 pm (Pacific time)

What a goof ball to take a baby seal pup and walk around town with it. Only in Oregon...

Clay April 21, 2007 9:14 am (Pacific time)

Seals are a nuisence, and if you happen to be a fisherman they are something you want to see populations of DRASTICALY ruduced. The pro animal nut cases say they are endangerd, thats BS and everyone knows it, they are thick beyond belief. My dad has told me storys of the fisherman in tillamook, bay city, and Gerbaldi loading up into boats with rifles, swarming up to beaches loaded with seals and sea lions back in the 60's and unloading on them till nothing moved anymore. They need to drop the protection on these vermin, make it open season year round and open up a seal fat rendering factory and create some new jobs making boot grease. All they ever eat off of a Salmon when they kill one is the stomac, all the meat goes to waste, and I have witnesed this happening many times when fishing myself.

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