Baby seals are popping up around the Washington / Oregon coast

Baby seals are popping up around the Washington / Oregon coast – Caution Recommended

Posted on 5/16/21 at 6:55 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection Staff

(Oregon Coast) – Small baby harbor seals are popping up all over the Oregon coast and it is time again for Oregon officials to issue the warning: stay clear of baby seals.

Tiffany Boothe of Seaside Aquarium said they are currently monitoring three different puppies in their area, which includes parts of Washington’s south coast to Rockaway Beach.

“Baby seals appear left and right,” Boothe said. “If you encounter a baby seal on the beach, be sure to give it enough room to rest and if there are no signs posted already, call us at (503) 738-6211.”

What numbers do you call if you find a stranded baby seal? Oregon State Police non-emergency numbers are good, but make sure you don’t use 911. On the North Oregon Coast and South Washington Coast, call the Seaside Aquarium at 503- 738-6211. The marine mammal hotline at 1.800.452.7888 is best for the southern Oregon coast, or statewide if you can’t remember the other numbers. On Washington’s North Coast, the larger West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network line at 1.866.767.6114 is your best bet.

For the Northern Half of Oregon State Police: 800-442-0776. For the southern half (under Reedsport): 800-442-2068.

“Oregon and Washington typically see harbor seals hatch throughout the spring and late summer, while California can see pups in early February,” Boothe said. “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 the humans are too close. So, wildlife experts suggest giving baby seals plenty of space, observing them from a distance, and while they are absolutely adorable, don’t touch them.

Boothe said 99% of the time their mothers are close. They go by scent, so if a human approaches it can not only scare the mom, but the scent a human leaves on her baby can scare her as well. A puppy can sit still for a few days, with the mother showing up at night to feed the baby.

There have been scandalous cases of human interference in the past. Keith Chandler of Seaside Aquarium told Oregon Coast Beach Connection there was an incident where he had to enter a hotel room and retrieve a baby seal that the occupants had put in the tub water.

Simpson Reef / Cape Arago – photo courtesy of Oregon’s Adventure Coast

“Female seals give birth every year after an eleven month gestation period and use familiar coastal shores or estuaries with easy access to water to have their young,” Boothe said. “The new seals can swim immediately but stay close and straddle their mothers as they mature.”

Even though it is tempting to watch them from a distance, maybe a few hundred yards away, it is still not a good idea as it can scare the mom. However, there are places on the South Oregon Coast where you can watch them safely from a distance, where it won’t bother the parent.

Even in early summer, seals can be seen with their young in places like Shore Acres State Park. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) said this area offers several trails that hug the cliffs along the shoreline, giving you the chance to see them and other wildlife.

“Be careful not to get too close to the cliffs when looking for wildlife – the falls can be dangerous and deadly,” ODFW said.

Rocky areas like this on the southern Oregon coast are excellent for spotting nesting seabirds, harbor seals, and sea lions. ODFW suggested monitoring Cape Arago National Park, where many seals and sea lions use the Simpson Reef and the Shell Island area, as seen from the park.

“Now is the perfect time to visit Simpson’s Reef Lookout, which offers a great view of these animals,” said ODFW. MORE PHOTOS BELOW

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Photos below courtesy of Seaside Aquarium

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