“Seal Sitters sit in shifts saving baby seals along the Salish seashore.”
Will children someday be chanting that tongue twister instead of the ditty about Sally and her sea shells?
Actually, Seal Sitters in the Salish Sea really are day care providers for baby seals, or pups, on some of our beaches that are also heavily used by people. Volunteers of all ages take shifts guarding the pups while they are resting on the beach and mom is out fishing for food. The volunteers keep a wide circle around the pups, keeping away curious–and sometimes adoring–onlookers and their dogs. The goal is to prevent the mothers from abandoning their pups if they return to see a group of people around their offspring. Rarely can an abandoned, nursing pup survive. If you come upon a seal pup alone on a beach, however, don’t assume it’s been abandoned. Mom is likely fishing and will be back. It’s wise to stay well clear of the pup so that the mother feels safe in coming back for it.
The Seal Sitters have just received a grant of $15,000 for an educational program. It will mark 2013 as the “Year of the Seal” and will include a special “Harbor Seal Day” and also will provide a sculpture of a seal mom and pup at Alki Beach.
Only 50% of seal pups survive their first season, due to all kinds of threats, like low food supply, rising water temperatures, and pollution, but Seal Sitters are helping to prevent more losses. For a great volunteer opportunity, check out their site, www.sealsitters.org. Their blog, www.blubberblog.org (my all-time favorite name for a blog site!) has a great video showing what they do.
And, by the way, if you’re looking for a Christmas gift for a child, check out Leopold & Silkie, by Brenda Peterson. A lovely children’s picture book about the Seal Sitters, it tells the story of Miles, a member of the junior Seal Sitters. Photographer for the book is Robin Lindsey.