Photo by brentdanley available under Creative Commons.
Photo by brentdanley available under Creative Commons.

Although spring is here and the weather is perfect down at West Cliff, wildlife naturalists and volunteers are urging people in both Santa Cruz and Monterey to be aware of their beach activity.

Birthing season for harbor seals starts in the beginning of April and continues until the end of May, when the noisy seals whose call resonates from the wharf can be heard all the way to campus.

Although harbor seals tend to seek out secluded beaches to birth their pups, they are known as shy animals, and the mothers are easily startled by anything from an unleashed dog to a noisy sightseer. Frightened seals abandon their babies to retreat back into the ocean, leaving their pups to fend for themselves.

Because it is hard to know what beaches to avoid, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation has recruited 20 volunteers to overlook ares of the coastline where mother seals are birthing. These volunteers are available to answer questions from locals and visitors about viewing locations that will not disturb the mothers. Monitoring Coordinator Lisa Emanuelson is urging the residents of Santa Cruz to be aware of areas such as Wilder Ranch and Davenport, where there is a high likelihood of encountering birthing harbor seals.

Those who wish to learn more or volunteer can call the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Citizen Watershed Monitoring Network at (831) 647-4227.

Source: People urged to give harbor seals space during birthing season [Santa Cruz Sentinel]