Don't Touch the Harbor Seal Pups
On the wonderful central coast of Oregon we are blessed with the viewing pleasure of one of the most playful and
unique pinnipeds or seal named the Harbor Seal. These are animals native to our coast year round and we also
have a great collection at the Oregon Coast Aquarium that the clinic provides regular care for.
This is an earless seal in the phocid family and is the second most common seal on our coast next to the larger and significantly
more loud California sea lion. They can be various shades of silver, grey and brown with spots over their entire body.
At their heaviest they can be about 300 lbs and 5 and 1/2 ft in length. These little harbor seals can be seen hauling out
on sandy beaches along the coast and if they aren't basking in the sun sometimes you can see them wiggle and
undulate on land to get back into the water. The harbor seal doesn't have foreflippers like their cousin the sea lion
and thus they have to flop along land wiggling like a very large worm to get from land to water, always fun to watch!
On a more serious note, these wonderful creatures utilize our central coast as their pupping grounds in the spring time
and early summer. The pups will need their mothers care for approximately 3-4 wks where they'll be nursing up to 8x's
per day. As the mother cannot stay with the offspring the entire time because she needs to eat as well, these pups
are often left ashore while the mothers go into the ocean to hunt. If the pups are bothered by humans and or dogs
while the mother is gone sometimes that mother will not come back to nurse. If the pups are scared and feel threatened
by anything on land they might move into the water and drown.
All in all it is imperative that these fragile animals are not handled or disturbed.
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