It’s seal pupping season, but people aren’t staying far enough away

Posted at 3:33 PM, Apr 02, 2018

While the spring attracts more people to local beaches, marine mammals are also coming onshore for pupping season.

The Marine Mammal Center is worried people aren’t giving the animals their space.

According to the center, there is an increase in rescues during holidays like spring break.

“Get a little bit of everything, depends on the day, but I’ve seen dolphins to sea lions to seals from time to time,” said Nathan Smids, a surfer at Morro Bay.

While seal pups are precious to watch, The Marine Mammal Center wants to remind people that if you get too close you could jeopardize their chances of survival. That’s especially true for harbor seal pups.

“The harbor seal mom will leave her baby onshore or on rocks near the shore and go look for food, but harbor seals are very sensitive to people so if there is people surrounding that mom’s baby, she might actually end up being so frightened that she has to abandon her pup,” said Diana Kramer, Operations Manager for The Marine Mammal Center in San Luis Obispo County.

In 2016, 40 seals and sea lions were rescued due to negative human interaction.

There was an increase in 2017 to nearly 60 rescued.

Several have already been saved this year, including one elephant seal over the holiday weekend because too many people were surrounding it.

“Its name is Bun Bun for the Easter holiday. We ended up rescuing that animal because we determined it did need our help and it wasn’t in a good place to rest, being that it was so crowded,” Kramer explained.

Elephant seals, unlike harbor seals, are on their own after the first month and even though their mother has abandoned them, they are learning to swim and do things on their own.

These young seals often go onshore to rest, so give them space because they are highly sensitive to stress.

You can still enjoy looking at the young pups, just stay at least 100 yards away and reduce any disturbances.

You can photograph them but use your zoom and remember that it is illegal to disturb or try to move any marine mammals.

Also, all seal pups are wild animals and can bite, some could also carry diseases that are contagious to humans.