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Don’t bother stranded seals and sea lions on beaches

 Harbor Seal pup on beach in Oregon
Jim Rice
Oregon State University
Harbor seal pups may be found on Oregon beaches this time of year, but they need to be left alone by humans and their pets.

Warmer weather and Memorial Day weekend will draw more Oregonians to the coast, but experts urge beachgoers to avoid stranded seals and sea lions if they find them onshore.

It's the heart of harbor seal pupping season. Jim Rice, the stranding program manager for Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, said seal pups may come ashore and seem stranded, but they’re just waiting for their mom to retrieve them.

“Seals and sea lions come ashore to get rest,” Rice said. “And when they’re approached by people and their dogs, in particular, it can stress them out and it makes their job of resting that much more difficult.”

Rice said if the animal is in distress, that can make the situation even more difficult.

“By having to be on constant alert to be wary of any potential threats by things coming at them on the beach,” said Rice.

Rice said last year an outbreak of leptospirosis in California Sea lions spurred warnings to people and their dogs because the disease is transmissible. Rice says so far this year that's not a concern.

Rice said Seals and sea lions come ashore on Oregon beaches throughout the year. Besides giving them lots of space, you can report a stranded sea mammal to the Marine Mammal Stranding Network hotline: 1-866-767-6114

Copyright 2023 KLCC.

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s host for All Things Considered on weekday afternoons. She also is the editor of the KLCC Extra, the daily digital newspaper. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000.
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