Last Sunday, April 3, a seal was seen playing in the Auburn area of the Green River. Although seals and sea lions are not often spotted this far from the Sound, Chase Gunnell, Puget Sound Region Communications Manager for the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife says it’s not entirely surprising given the low gradient and slow flow of the waterway.
John Feher / SeattleStockVideo.com
The seal played with and ate fish in the Green River along Riverview Dr. NE for about 15 minutes.
Fish and wildlife biologists have documented seals and sea lions – known collectively as pinnipeds – well into freshwater in many other areas, particularly in the fall when the salmon are running.
Although it is less common to see them so far into freshwaters during the spring, Gunnell believes the seal may have been feeding on winter steelhead or out-migrating juvenile salmon. This behavior “presents serious concerns and ongoing scientific study given [the] high pinniped abundance and the threatened status of wild salmon and steelhead runs in our region,” says Gunnell.
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As the weather gets warmer and folks make their way to the waters during summer months Gunnell says it is not uncommon for seals or sea lions to follow or approach humans out of curiosity. “The best advice for anyone who encounters them in the water is to remain calm and non-threatening, and to give the animals space whenever possible. Just like other large mammals; don’t corner them, give them an exit, and talk calmly but firmly to let them know you’re human and not a threat.”
Feeding or harming seals and sea lions is a serious crime under state and federal regulations.
Did you see the seal in the river?
All video shot and owned by John Feher / SeattleStockVideo.com. Used by the Auburn Examiner with permission.