Doing so is often more harmful to the animal and it is a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. Marine mammals, including seals, sea lions, sea otters, whales and dolphins, are federally protected. These species are managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries division.
PAWS Wildlife Center is part of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network in Washington State. We rehabilitate injured and orphaned Harbor Seals. Since 1981 we have received more than 70 harbor Seals for rehabilitation.
We do not, however, pick up injured seals from a beach and do not accept seals from the general public without prior authorization from the NOAA Fisheries division.
Harbor Seal pups spend much of their time out of the water on beaches warming up or resting while their moms are away feeding, sometimes for up to 48 hours. More often than not a pup does not need help. You may observe the pup from more than 100 yards away with binoculars or a spotting scope.
If you believe a Harbor Seal pup or other marine mammal has been unattended by his mom for more than 48 hours, or is clearly in distress or injured, contact the Marine Mammal Stranding Network at 1.800.853.1964.
Learn more about what to do if you see a Harbor Seal pup by visiting the West Seattle Seal Sitters’ website or the Edmonds Seal Sitters’ website.
If you encounter someone harassing or harming a marine mammal, or allowing their pets to do so, call the NOAA Fisheries Enforcement Hotline at 1.800.853.1964.
Above: A Harbor Seal in PAWS' care