Sunday, March 24, 2013

Young Harbor Seal Pair on Seattle Beach


Two young Harbor Seals have been sharing a Seattle beach for the past several days.  Ruby (female) is a rescue animal rehabilitated by PAWS in 2012 as a pup and has now chosen a local Seattle beach as a favorite resting area.  Harbor Seals haul out of the water on beaches, buoys, floats, rocks....etc. to rest about 1/2 of the time, the remaining time is spent hunting food.  During the first year of the seal's life it is learning how to catch prey and is living close to the edge of survival.  About 1/2 of all the seals die within the first year of life.  Resting on beaches allows them to retain body heat and rest up for the next session of hunting.  If forced off the beach by any disturbance the seals face greater odds against survival.  
Seal Sitters is a volunteer organization and a member of the Northwest Stranding Network with ties to NOAA.  The mission of Seal Sitters is to limit or eliminate as much a possible human disturbance of resting seals.  This is accomplished through on site monitoring of seals to prevent disturbance of seals by the public and education of the public.
The two seals (Ruby and Buddy) in the images below are resting on a Seattle beach that is closed to human access, which reduces the potential or disturbance to the resting seals.  
Please remain 100 yards away from resting seals and respect any Seal Sitters barriers erected to protect the seals.  Keep dogs off Seattle Public Beaches (it's the law)....and protects not only the seals but the dogs as well from seal carried disease.  For more information:

Ruby (right) and Buddy

Ruby (Left) and Buddy

Ruby (right) and Buddy

Ruby (left) and Buddy

Ruby (left) and Buddy

You should be able to figure out this one

Ruby (female) Buddy (sex unknown)

River Otter off same beach - den nearby
River Otters from same den

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Puget Sound Welcomes Spring

Spring officially arrived March 20th......with a vigorous storm in its teeth.  Winds of 25-30 mph with gusts to 40, rain in the lowlands and heavy snow in the Cascade and Olympic mountains.  Happily our forecast for the next 10 days of Spring is dry and calm.

Harbor Seals continue to show up daily on Seattle beaches providing plenty of work for Seal Sitters volunteers who monitor the seals to ensure they are left in peace by wandering people and dogs.
Many of these seals are last year's pups and are still very vulnerable to disturbances which force them back in the water.  Resting on beaches allows the seals to conserve energy and heat between feeding periods.  Without these rest periods the young seals face certain death before their first birthday.
Male California Sea Lions are in Puget Sound during the non-breeding season and will depart for the breeding beaches south of Washington as Spring advances, to return here in late summer and fall.  Females remain south all year.
The waterfowl that have been wintering on Puget Sound will be moving to breeding grounds north and east during the coming weeks.  Thousands of Brant Geese will move north past Seattle beaches on their way from wintering areas along the coast all the way to Baja California Mexico.  Surf Scoters winter in Puget Sound and are often treated to storms which bring their  March 20th brought a play day for the Surf Scoters off West Seattle.
Pigeon Guillemots are finished molting into breeding plumage and show off their bright red feet when diving.
Orca Whales have been scarce in Puget Sound for the past weeks as no major runs of salmon are present in the Sound at this time.
Summer will bring large runs of Pink Salmon to Puget Sound, but Orcas will normally not venture into the Sound in Summer as they prefer to hunt Chinook Salmon in the San Juan Islands of Northern Washington and British Columbia.  The Pink Salmon runs should provide a good food supply for resident Harbor Seals this Summer.
After decades of absence Harbor Porpoise have returned to central Puget Sound while Dall's Porpoise who have been common in central Puget Sound now seem uncommon.
While not a sign of Spring, Anna's Hummingbird (here year round) has been seen at Jack Block Park in West Seattle and one has made himself the center of attention for local photographers....including me.

May you all have a great Spring....except those in south of the Equator...may you have a great Autumn. 

California Sea Lion male resting in Puget Sound

Harbor Seal "Shamrock" entering Puget Sound after resting beach

Seal Sitter volunteer setting barrier to protect Harbor Seal from disturbance by humans

Seal Sitters volunteers on windy cool late winter day

California Sea Lions in active mode

Harbor Seal "Shamrock" resting on Seattle beach

Pigeon Guillemots in new breeding plumage

Surf Scoters living up to their name

Surf Scoters enjoying first day of Spring storm at Alki beach Seattle

Happy wind surfer loving the Spring storm.

Anna's Hummingbird (year round resident Seattle)

Anna's Hummingbird staking out territory

Yet another Anna's image - this bird knows how to pose.

Brant Geese moving north

California Sea Lion male on boat ramp dock West Seattle

Harbor Porpoise off West Seattle
Harbor Seals on old Seattle Port dock