Harbor seal pup on beach

Human and domestic dog interactions are obstacles for the health and well-being of both young and mature seals.

Oregon and Washington typically see harbor seals born throughout spring and into late Harbor seal pupping season is here. summer, while California may see pups early as February. These young animals use time on land to regulate body temperature and rest while their mothers hunt nearby. However, the mother may not return if humans are too close. Wildlife experts suggest giving seal pups plenty of space, observe them from a distance and while they are absolutely adorable, do not touch.

Female seals birth annually after an 11-month gestation and utilize familiar coastal shores or estuary areas with easy access to water to have their pups. New seals can immediately swim but stay close and ride on their mothers back while they mature.

Marine mammals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Under this federal law it is illegal to move, touch, harass, feed, or kill marine mammals including seal pups. Harbor seals live on land for nearly half their lives breeding, molting, resting, and raising their offspring. Molting occurs after pups are weaned and to retain warmth and energy molting seals often stay on land for extended periods of time. Human encroachment and domestic dog interaction are big challenges for the health and well-being of both young and mature seals.

The Marine Mammal Stranding Network responds to sightings of seal pups and other injured or dead marine mammals, including whales or dolphins. Responders will act as quickly as possible to assess the situation and obtain information and observations about the animal in question.

For the northern Oregon and southern Washington coast the Seaside Aquarium is the local responder for the Marine Mammal Stranding Network and can be contacted at 503-738-6211. If a stranded marine mammal is found elsewhere the Marine Mammal Hotline at 800-452-7888 and they will contact the appropriate stranding network responder for the area.

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