Injured harbor seal pups heal; released back into ocean

Injured harbor seal pups heal; released

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. - Floating and flipping, three harbor seal pups are enjoying their first dip in the ocean since their rescue a few months ago.

Stan Jensen, a computer engineer turned Marine Mammal Center volunteer took care of them. 

"When they first came in, they were scrawny, newborn, 10 days, two weeks old pups, very pathetic looking," Jensen said.

Chin Chin, Yalma and Ms. Annee were brought to the center in Saulsalito for treatment in April and May.

"These three tell a pretty typical story for us -- of animals that are separated from their moms early on for a variety of reasons and then without that maternal care, they need the support of people to be able to get to them to this weight," said Jeff Boehm, executive director of the Marine Mammal Center.

On Friday, these pups, now healthy were sent off from an ocean-front home in Pebble Beach. The owners opened up their property for the animals.

While they might not be able to appreciate the luxury estate, there's good reason for choosing that location.

"There are certain things we look for in release sites. One is is there a healthy population of that species in the area and there is here. So there are harbor seals here obviously making a living off of the bounty of the water around here," Boehm said.

The Marine Mammal Center treats harbor seals every year, but they're dealing with fewer pups in 2017 so far.

"The harbor seals we only had about 50 or 60 this year, it was a quite year, which means the ocean was somewhat healthy," Jensen said.

This compared to 137 in 2016, when warmer ocean temperatures caused a food shortage and many harbor seals starved to death.

Now it seems like the tide has turned as pupping season nears the end and the Marine Mammal Center only has four more harbor seals to treat.

"Knock on wood, its been much better than previous years, so we are cautiously optimistic," Jensen said.

Kim Akeman was with dozens of spectators watching the send. She said everyone was excited.

"It's always wonderful to see one of those pups that would otherwise die without their help being released now to start over again," Akeman said.

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