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September 8, 2009  
Photo of Kevin Mack.

Two Days at the Beach
by Kevin Mack, PAWS Wildlife Naturalist

On June 18, PAWS Wildlife Center received an orphaned Harbor Seal who had spent three days hanging around boats in the marina off Semiahmoo Spit in Blaine, WA. On admittance, the seal pup was given the case number 09-1078, and she was found to be very thin but otherwise in good health. Ten days later, another Harbor Seal pup was found floundering on a rock jetty in Ocean Shores. She too was admitted at PAWS and given the case number 09-1187. She was extremely thin and had abrasions on her chin from her struggle among the rocks.

Both seals thrived while in PAWS' care. In large pools they honed their swimming, diving and fishing skills, and after two months of an all-they-could-eat fish buffet we would have been hard pressed to convince anyone that the two pups had ever been thin. Seal 09-1178 was returned to Ocean Shores for release on August 27, and seal 09-1078 was returned to Semiahmoo Spit on August 28. The following photos tell the story of their return to the wild.

Pictures from seal release
On August 27, PAWS Wildlife Veterinary Extern Sam Haskins opened the carrier door to set seal 09-1187 free on a Grays Harbor mud flat in Ocean Shores.
Pictures from seal release
Seal 09-1187 slowly inched out of the carrier and then dunked her face in the water.
Pictures from seal release
The seal tipped her head back and smelled the salt air.
Pictures from seal release
She looked around as if she was searching for some guidance.
Pictures from seal release
After exploring the mud flat and the shallow a little bit, seal 09-1187 started moving out into deeper water.
Pictures from seal release
Once she could no longer touch the bottom, the seal began to make short dives and explore her new "pool."
Pictures from seal release
After spending a few moments getting oriented, seal 09-1187 swam off in the direction of a sandbar that was covered in other, resting Harbor Seals.
Pictures from seal release
On August 28, PAWS Wildlife Rehabilitator Carey Fegel opened the carrier door to release Harbor Seal 09-1078 on the beach at Semiahmoo Spit.
Pictures from seal release
It was a bright and sunny day, and the seal squinted in the sunlight as she inched out of her carrier.
Pictures from seal release
Seal 09-1078 sat in the shallows, seemingly enjoying both the coolness of the water and the feel of the sun on her back.
Pictures from seal release
She occasionally glanced our way as if she was uncertain about what this experience meant for her.
Pictures from seal release
She took an interest in birds flying by and began to explore along the shoreline.
Pictures from seal release
When seal 09-1078 moved into water that was just deep enough that she could still touch bottom, she began slowly moving parallel to the shore. "Walking" with her front flippers by pushing them against the rocky bottom, she made her way up the beach.
Pictures from seal release
After flipper-walking for about 100 yards, seal 09-1078 moved into deeper water. A light bulb went on and she began to swim and dive. After a particularly long dive, she surfaced in the middle of a large flock of scoters (a kind of sea duck) and caused the birds to scatter. She then dove again and was absorbed back into the world from which she had come.

There is Still Time to Help Us Meet Our Goal!
PAWSwalk will take place on Saturday, September 12 at Seattle's Magnuson Park. The PAWS staff and volunteer team is still working hard to meet our fundraising goal of $15,000 to support all of our efforts for both wild and companion animals. If you would like to make a contribution to help us meet this goal, visit the staff and volunteer team page today! You can choose to contribute to the team as a whole or make a donation on any of the individual team member's donation pages. Either way, you help us reach our goal which helps us continue to help animals!



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A Northwest leader in protecting animals since 1967, the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) shelters homeless animals, rehabilitates injured and orphaned wildlife, and empowers people to demonstrate compassion and respect for animals in their daily lives.

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