By Danielle Anthony-Goodwin
Reports over the weekend about a dead seal found at Golden Gardens that was apparently ’shot’ and decapitated have proven to be false. The dead seal was found to be in a decomposing state that is, according to the NOAA, normal with no signs of unusual circumstances. The story was reported without confirmation, sparking concern in the community.
The dead seal was found to be significantly decomposed and in a state that is similar to many seals that are responded to by the NOAA’s NW Marine Mammal Stranding Networks. The Seal Sitters Blubber Blog reported that it is not out of the ordinary for other animals and birds to attempt to eat the carcass, often leaving marks that can appear to be in shape of a bullet wound. Robin Lindsey from Seal Sitters wrote yesterday that “it is extremely difficult for expert biologists, much less laypersons, to determine if a marine mammal has been shot.”
The seal carcass was removed from the beach yesterday afternoon by volunteers from Sno-King Marine Mammal Response. As no unusual circumstances have been found, the seal will not be necropsied and will most likely be returned to the Puget Sound to cultivate the marine environment. Lindsey wanted to emphasize that NOAA and the stranding networks would like to let people know that there’s nothing to worry about.
As we are approaching seal season, if you find an abandoned or deceased seal at Golden Gardens, call the NOAA Stranding Hotline at 1-800-853-1964. If you happen to find a seal on the West Seattle beach, call Seal Sitters assistance at 206-905-SEAL (7325).
Click here to check out the Seal Sitter’s website for more information on what to do if you come across an abandoned seal.