By: Lauren Gee
Many Northern Elephant seals are coming up to the bay area beaches for pupping season! To keep these animals from growing healthy and safe, the Marine Mammal Center urges people to stay a safe distance away from them and to never touch or disturb the animals. They also recommend to call the rescue hotline to report a sick or injured animal at 415-289-SEAL.
Since 1975, The Marine Mammal Center has treated over 20,000 marine mammals all throughout the 600 miles of bay area coast. Right now, around 60 elephant seal pups are in the care of the non-profit hospital in Marin because they were either separated from their mom or suffering from malnutrition. Researchers at the Marine Mammal Center studied that seal mom’s tend to leave their pups behind when humans interact with the animal. The pup is then left alone, unable to eat and live on its own. The center has also found that every year, at least 10% of the time animals come to the center because they are entangled or sick from physical contaminants such as trash of fishing gear.
The Center educates school groups and encourages people to come visit their facility to learn about the animals and ways they can be stewards of the ocean. Cameron Steinback, a marine science educator at the center teaches school groups about plastic pollution in the ocean. He encourages them to look at their lunch and to figure out what single-use plastics they can swap out for reusable ones. He also recommends to find volunteer opportunities such as beach cleanups and street cleanups because they all lead to the ocean.