Seal pupping season returns to Monterey County

Seal pupping season returns to Monterey County

MONTEREY, Calif. - UPDATE 3/8/2018 5:50 p.m.: A heads up from the Marine Mammal Center – They are asking people to keep a safe distance from elephant and harbor seal pups. Elephant seal pupping season was in January, harbor seal pupping season begins in about three weeks.

On Thursday, two new guests arrived at the Marine Mammal Center in Moss Landing. Timro and Duma were rescued in San Luis Obispo County. They were malnourished, weighing 76-85 pounds. They should weight over 200 lbs. 

The pair will stay overnight before going to the main hospital in Sausalito for long-term rehabilitation, then will be released into the wild. 

These two were born in January and they’re still learning the ropes. That’s why TMMC says it is important that people stay away. 

"Because the elephant seals are just learning to catch food all on their own, and they're not necessarily good at it just yet, so they need a lot of practice and a lot of space on the beach so that they get plenty of rest and they can practice learning how to catch those fish," said Julia O’Hern, Monterey Bay Operations Manager for TMMC.

Meantime, a number of expectant mothers have been getting ready for pupping season at the Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove. But Baynet volunteers believe it is a fraction of what it should be. 

"We should expect at this time of year 300 seals on this beach every day,” volunteer Thom Akeman said. “We don't see that this year. We've seen 200 two days in the last couple of weeks. But then we've seen as few as eight one day, right now there's about 35 down there."

And the ones that are there aren’t looking too healthy, leading them to believe there might be a good shortage.

When the time is right, Pacific Grove will put up temporary fencing to protect new mothers and their pups from the public. 

Sometimes folks with good intentions get too close trying to help a pup by itself on the beach, not realizing the mother is in the water foraging for food. Sometimes it’s someone trying to get a good picture.

"So a lot of times we've got people who get really close trying to take photos, sometimes it's just people walking their dogs, and they don't realize that maybe their dog is getting a little too close, so we're really just reminding people that if you see a pup on the beach or you see seal or sea lion on the beach and you're not sure, to give the marine mammal center a call, we've got our number 415-289-SEAL (7325)," O’Hern said.

They want folks to know, if you’re not using the zoom on your camera, or the animals are paying attention to you – you are too close.

ORIGINAL POST: Pupping season returns to the Monterey Bay! 

Elephant seals and harbor seals are resting up on local beaches to give birth to their pups. 

The Marine Mammal Center said it's preparing to enter the busiest rescue season of the year and they want to make sure the public remembers to view these animals from a safe distance. 

"Last year, the Center saw an increase in the number of human and dog interactions with newborn seal pups. So to kick off pupping season this year, we’ve put together the three best tips to safely view these animals," said the Marine Mammal Center.

Last year, a newborn harbor seal pup named Pebbles was separated from her mom after a beach-goer at Point Lobos State Reserve got too close causing her mother to abandon her. 

(Pebbles pictured below, courtesy: Marine Mammal Center)

Pebbles was rescued and brought to the Marine Mammal Center's Sausalito hospital for rehabilitation. 

According to the Marine Mammal Center, "There were 10 other newborn harbor seal pups that required rescue after well-meaning beach-goers interfered with them last year. In total, nearly 60 seals and sea lions were rescued in 2017 due to negative human interaction."


- Harbor seal mothers often leave their pups ashore while they're feeding at sea, leading many members of the public to mistakenly believe they’ve been abandoned. The best thing for people to do is to keep their distance!

- It’s ok to take photos and admire the animals, but if you’re not having to use the zoom on your camera or they’re paying attention to you, you’re too close.

- If a member of the public sees any seal in distress in Monterey County, they should call our rescue hotline at 415-289-SEAL (7325). The Center will monitor the pup for 24 hours or more, depending on the situation and, if necessary, trained volunteers and staff will rescue it safely.

KION's Mariana Hicks has the full story at 5 and 6 p.m. 

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