Actually, mostly Mariann did the evaluation and I learned a little more about how to complete the Level A (the Marine Mammal Stranding Report - Level A, to be exact) form that is required by NOAA Fisheries, Office of Protected Resources during an investigation "in the field". The Level A form is used by all stranding networks to collect marine mammal stranding data for inclusion in a database of marine mammal stranding incidents.While the pup was alert at times, she must not have eaten for a couple of days as she was visibly more thin and less responsive than the day before. It had been reported that children were seen pouring water on the pup at a different location on the beach prior to our agency having been called. We could see no sign that the pup's mother had come around to care for her any time during the previous night. It was becoming apparent that she might not survive much longer without intervention. Mariann made several phone calls to local, and some not-so-local, agencies until one was found that could care for this stranded harbor seal pup and nurse her back to health.The nearest facility available was the Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center on San Juan Island, so plans were made to send the pup off. I continued with the pup watch on the beach so that it would not be disturbed by any of the many people and pets out enjoying the beach on such a beautiful summer's day while Julie, an experienced volunteer on the WMMSN Stranding Response Team, was out rounding up the necessary supplies - a pet carrier, large towel and a couple of pairs of heavy-duty gloves. Once back, Julie explained how to move the seal pup in a way that would cause it the least stress. Working together, we gently carried the pup from where it was stranded on the beach, carefully placing it into the carrier for transport.
Julie cared for the pup overnight, giving it necessary fluids, and put it on the morning flight to San Juan Island. She reported that the pup did well during the night and was alert this morning, even showing its little teeth while being cared for. Staff from Wolf Hollow met the plane and took the seal pup to their facility where they will care for her, releasing her back into the wild once she is stronger and old enough to survive on her own. It feels good knowing that we helped save her.
Meanwhile, I was on a beach and it was low tide. With my normal fascination in marine life, I was thrilled to spot this lion's mane jellyfish. The jellyfish, also stranded - at the high tide strand line, very near the large rock I had sat on while harbor seal pup watching.
More pics from a not so typical afternoon at Birch Bay.
If you share a love and concern for our local marine mammals and are interested in learning how you can help out by becoming a volunteer, or contribute in some other way (donations are always needed and welcomed), please contact Bob Ryerson, Director of Volunteers at the Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network, by calling him at 360-306-1568.