Marine Mammal Ecology Lab

June 2014

Erin D'Agnese, M.Sc. student

This season we have seen one premature pup and one full term pup our at the haul out. As it is early in the pupping season this is normal. Premature pup are called lanugo pups and can be easily distinguished by having a white coat that looks somewhat fluffy compared to the spotted coats of full term pups. Here are a couple of pictures showing the difference.

seal pup

This is a picture of a pup which was nearly covered completely in full lanugo coat that was picked up from an isolated location and relocated to a rookery where it had a chance to find it's mom. These lanugo pups are often abandoned most likely because of their poor health due to being born prematurely. If you are around the beaches of Puget Sound you may see pups similar to this on sitting on a beach over the next month. Remember to keep your distance just as you would from any stranded marine mammal and call the NOAA hotline 1-866-767-6114 or your local marine mammal stranding network to report it.

You will also see full term pups resting on the beaches that don't have that white coat and look darker like the one pictured below.

older seal pup

Make sure you are keeping your distance, often pups will remain on the beach even if mom is spooked into the water. So be sure you give these seals the best chance be leaving them alone and giving them lots of space so if mom is around she can come attend to her pup without being bothered by people or dogs on beaches. Adult seals are very shy and spook easily by disturbance when on land. They need all the quiet space they can get.

If you are keeping an eye on the SealCam you will start to notice very pregnant females and also start seeing pups very soon. Also keep your eye out for coyotes and raccoons as they have been very active on the haul out this spring and early summer.