PACIFICA (KPIX) – Many beachgoers were surprised when a baby elephant seal rolled onto the shore in Pacifica Saturday afternoon.
“It’s not usual, we go to the beach often and usually they’re in the water or near the rocks, they don’t usually come where the people are standing around, swimming and playing in the water,” said Sacramento resident Jennifer DeQuiroz.
The young baby elephant seal caught the attention of 10-year-old Athena and her mom Jennifer DeQuiroz.
“It just laid there and we thought it was tired at first so we were like ‘okay let’s just leave it alone,’ and after a few minutes it didn’t go away, so that’s when I told my mom to call the marine place,” said Athena DeQuiroz.
It is exactly what The Marine Mammal Center wants the public to do. The 911 call brought out rescuers, who put the seal in a carrier. It will be examined by veterinarians and tube fed once it arrives.
Volunteer Kris Lannin says she believes the seal is about 10 to 12 weeks old. She says it came from a rookery at Año Nuevo State Park in nearby Pescadero.
“They’re born in January and February. Their moms leave after weaning them for four weeks, and then they’re sort of on their own. And when they go to the water for the first time, they’ve never swam in the open ocean, they’ve never eaten, and so sometimes they strand along our beaches,” said Lannin, volunteer with The Marine Mammal Center.
Lannin says this is the start of pupping season. In the last week alone, the center says it has admitted 10 baby elephant seals.
“They’re also babies so we really want people to give them space, they’re probably a little bit afraid, and they’re malnourished,” said Lannin. “They’re not feeling well, so the message is if you see a wild animal, call The Marine Mammal Center and leave them be.”
It also advises people to not return the animal to the water, and watch them from a distance.
Once the stranded seal is at a healthy weight, the organization will safely release it back into the wild.