• New precedent? Seal pup born on Lovers Point Beach in Pacific Grove

    A harbor seal pup was born on the main beach at Lovers Point over the weekend of April 6-7, 2013. Docents from Bay Net believe this is the first confirmed birth there. Bay Net docent for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Kim Worrell, spotted the mom and baby on the beach about 7 a.m. on Sunday morning and called in other docents to help.Lover's Point pupweb

    “We saw remnants of the afterbirth in the sand when we arrived by 7:30 a.m., so confirmed the birth was on that beach,” said Thom Akeman, a Bay Net volunteer who reports he was onsite at 7:30 a.m. following Worrell’s report. Later in the day, a couple (among 300 members of the public with whom Akeman spoke) reported they had seen the birth at 11:15 p.m. the night before and had returned to see how the pair of seals were doing.

    Seals have been pupping at the beach at Hopkins Marine since 1997 and sometimes at a small beach at the bottom of 5th Street in Pacific Grove since 2006, but this is the first confirmed birth at Lovers Point Beach, a popular site with visitors and locals alike.

    Docents noted earlier this season that the seals seem abnormally skittish this year. There have been sightings of one, possibly two large male elephant seals at the Hopkins Marine beach, the favorite of seals in past seasons. Hopkins has been fenced off to protect the seal rookery, though people can still view the seals from a safe distance.

    It is also reported that a number of distressed, possibly starving, sea lions have been noted.

    “The nursing seal pair moved around on the beach for an hour or so, then went into the water for a swim. They were on and off the beach for the next two hours then went for a long swim. A docent spotted them on the little beach at the bottom of 5th Street about noon and we hoped that would end the Lovers Point situation,” said Akeman.

    It apparently did not. Human intruders at 5th Street — from the unsecured side at Berwick Park — apparently scared the nursing pair off the beach as intruders had other pairs Friday and Saturday, and they were back at Lovers Point about 1:30 p.m. The seals approached the beach several times for the next hour and a half, then took off again. “They turned up at 5th Street again about 4:00 and we sent some tired docents over to keep intruders off that beach,” he said.

    Early on, Pacific Grove Police and Public Works personnel were notified of the situation and attempted to set up barricades.

    Unfortunately, signage which had been placed to warn tourists and locals alike about the danger to seal mothers and pups was damaged after docent hours, and docents say only one person they know of has complained about the signs. Harbor seal pupping warning signs belonging to the city and those supplied by Bay Net were taken, some were damaged, some were ripped off the fence posts and thrown next to the trash can … and a few were left alone as they hung.

    Another docent, Diane Tan and her husband, David, set themselves up at two of the three main entrances to Lovers Point beach to advise people of the delicate presence.

    On Sunday, as word spread, more people got involved in the efforts to protect the seals. Cheryl Kampe, an artist and Mayor Bill Kampe’s wife, spotted the nursing couple on a morning walk. She told Bill and he alerted the police to see about protective barricades. Said Akeman, “Sgt. Jeff Fenton called me about 8 a.m. to ask if we could get some Bay Net docents to the beach to help protect the mom and pup. Two officers had already been there. Sgt. Fenton and another stopped by in the afternoon.”

    A Public Works employee stopped by with barricades but since the mom and pup weren’t stationary, he didn’t know where to put them. He gave docents his cell phone number to call if we could decide where they should go so he could bring them back. The Marine Mammal Center was notified and they brought signs on sticks which were stuck in the sand at the three main entrances to that beach.

    Tired docents pulled the Marine Mammal Center signs out of the sand at 4:30 p.m., told people in the area the beach was OK to use again and left. Docents had spent the day explaining the situation and asking people not to go down on the beach and possibly disrupt the nursing seals.

    “During my 9 hours at Lovers Point I talked to nearly 300 people who were heading to the beach,” said Akeman. “What absolutely amazed me was that all but one — a middle-aged surfer — were very cooperative and even happy to help protect a baby seal.”

    posted to Cedar Street Times on April 8, 2013

    Topics: Front PG News, Green

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