Featured Image Credit: Brocken Inaglory
By Emily Persico
Spring is in the air—rather, it’s been in the air all warm winter long—and the seals’ biological clocks are a-ticking. Elephant and harbor seals are popping out their pups right on schedule despite the unusually warm weather, and they need your help to stay safe.
“We really encourage people to check out the beaches this time of year and take in all of our wonderful wildlife,” heartens Julia O’Hearns, Monterey Bay Operations Manager at the Marine Mammal Center. “We just ask that people try and keep a respectful distance from the animals.”
Elephant seals and harbor seals are the second and third most common patients at the center, respectively, and pupping season is a busy time for those trying to rescue these plump pinnipeds.
Both species are considered “true seals,” meaning they lack external ear flaps. Harbor seals max out at an impressive six feet and 300 pounds. As their name suggests, elephant seals are quite a bit larger—males are around 13 feet and 4,5000 pounds.
As large as both these creatures are, a lifetime of living in close association with humans has taught them to keep their distance. Mother seals want the best for their pups, but they will flee the scene if approached, leaving their vulnerable pups alone.
“We usually tell people that if the animal turns and notices you, you’ve probably gotten a little too close, and just back up a little bit,” heeds O’Hern.
The Center has already received three elephant seal pups this season. They will care for these malnourished youngins until they are ready to be released, doing everything they can to play the part of mom (who usually sticks around for 28 days before weaning).
Help wildlife stay safe this spring. If you see an animal, small or large, do not interfere. If you think a young one is orphaned, look around for its parents before reporting it to your local wildlife authorities.
Learn more from our source.