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Seal Pups Need Social Distancing, Too

Jim Rice
Oregon State University

More beaches along the Oregon coast re-opened to the public Friday as closures related to the coronavirus continue to be rolled back. Visitors are encouraged to observe social distancing while they enjoy the sand and surf.

Mid-May is also the peak of harbor seal pupping season on the Oregon coast. And that means beachgoers may encounter baby seals that appear to be stranded.

Oregon State University marine mammal biologist Jim Rice says that’s normal. Seal mothers often leave their young on the beach for hours while they go off in search of food.

“The pup’s best chance of survival is to remain exactly where it is so that the mother can come back and find it where she last saw it,” he said.

"Ideally, a pup would be born in a remote area away from people," said Rice. "Unfortunately, the mother seals don't always give birth in remote areas. Sometimes they give birth in front of hotels."

Rice says onlookers should remain at least 50 yards away, and keep their dogs on a leash. Human interaction with seal pups and other marine mammals is a violation of federal law.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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