Seal Sitters Making Sure Pups Have Space

Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network is a nonprofit group of volunteers in the Pacific Northwest trained by NOAA. During seal pupping season—from mid-June to September—nursing mother-pup pairs, juveniles, and adult seals seek rest and community onshore. Newborn seal pups are very vulnerable. Off-leash dogs and humans are the main threats to these pups, who are often alone on the beach for several hours while their mothers are far out fishing in the Salish Sea. If the mother returns to find the baby surrounded with curious people, she may abandon her pup.

When a pup is spotted, neighbors call Seal Sitters or NOAA. Seal Sitters volunteers cordon off the pup with “Protected Marine Mammal” tape and watch from a respectful distance. Using binoculars, they scan for propeller gashes or behavioral signs of internal injuries or distress. The volunteers politely keep people and dogs 100 yards away from the seal pups, as recommended by the National Marine Fisheries Service, Northwest Region. They also explain seal conservation to beachcombers, and invite them to join Seal Sitters.

To learn more about making your beach safe for wildlife, visit