It’s Seal Pup Season Again – Hands Off!

As Oregon begins to cautiously emerge from the lockdown, people are heading to the beaches. Anyone visiting the shore should keep in mind the importance of avoiding unnecessary contact. Contact with people you don’t know, and even more importantly, contact with seal pups. 

Yes, it is seal pup season on the seashore right now. So here are a few things to know. 

It is normal behavior for a seal parent to leave a pup on the beach while hunting. A seal pup lying on the sand is not “lost,” “abandoned,” or “beached.” It does not need to be rescued. 

Also, a seal pup resting on the beach looks cute, but it isn’t a teddy bear. It’s a wild animal. Raccoons are cute – would you pick one of them up? Would you pose your baby next to one for a photo? People have been known to be that careless in the presence of seals and seal pups. 

If you see a seal pup on the beach, maintain a seal-human social distance of 50 feet. Period. 

About the only time humans ever need to do anything about a seal pup lying on a beach is if it’s in an area where there are a large number of other humans walking around. In that case, it might be in danger from one or more of the humans walking by. Even then, you should not interfere with it.  

Instead, call the professionals. On the northern part of the Oregon Coast, that means the Seaside Aquarium at 503-738-6211, or the State Police at 800-442-0776. On the southern Oregon Coast, call the Marine Mammal Hotline at 1-800-452-7888, or the State Police at 800-442-2068. Anywhere along the coast, it’s a safe bet to call the West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network line at 1-866-767-6114. 

So, to conclude: if you see a seal pup lying on the beach, leave it be. Please. 

By John M. Burt