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Seal pups born at Poulsbo Marina

POULSBO — There’s nothing quite as fascinating as the miracle of life.

Especially when that life begins in the public setting on the A Dock of the Poulsbo Marina.

Two baby seals were born this week near the Port of Poulsbo, one on a dock Monday morning and another on boom sticks south of the port Saturday. For port manager Kirk Stickels, these occasions are becoming regular occurrences.

“It’s not uncommon. We have about two or three each year,” he said. “This has become part of the cycle here.”

A Dock is one of the quieter, less-traveled docks at the port, which is why the seals chose to birth there, Stickels said. Like the activities of otters and birds, seal births take a little cleanup, but don’t cause much disturbance otherwise.

“The mother and pup were on the dock for quite a while,” he said. “Then they got back in the water. Both seemed quite happy heading to the boom sticks.”

Point Defiance Zoo staff biologist Jean Whitehead said for seals, giving birth on man-made objects like docks and boom sticks is perfectly normal and isn’t necessarily due to development on or around natural birthing places.

“It can be anywhere,” she said. “Beaches, log booms, buoys, wherever they find space.”

Seal pups tend to stay with their mothers for about six weeks after birth, which is enough time for them to put on the blubber they need before heading out on their own. During that time, they more than double their body weight, and often stay on shore to conserve energy. While mothers forage for food, pups will be left alone on the beach.

When a lone seal pup is spotted, it shouldn’t be assumed the animal has been abandoned, Whitehead said. If people or pets are nearby an onshore pup, the mother will not return.

“One of the problems with the harbor seals is they are a very shy species,” Whitehead said. “The big thing is if people are seeing pups, they should leave them alone. Stay a minimum of 100 yards away. A pup’s best chance of survival is to be alone on the beach.”

The Marine Mammal Protection Act was instituted for situations like these, Whitehead said. The act prohibits the capturing or harassing of any marine mammal. While people often think they are being helpful, their interference usually causes harm, she said.

After their initial time with their mothers, seal pups are left to fend for themselves.

“It really is a very harsh reality,” Whitehead said. “It’s a pretty tough crash course.”

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