The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito is busy treating seal pups rescued along the California coast.

Marine Mammal Center

Approaching Baby Seals Threatens Their Survival, Experts Warn

Scott Lettieri
April 25, 2019 - 6:59 am

SAUSALITO — Spring is the rescue season for harbor seal pups, and at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito volunteers are keeping busy.

There are currently some 25 baby seals at the center but that number is expected to rise in the coming weeks.

"All of these animals get frozen thawed herring as their main diet source," said Emily Whitmer, a veterinary intern at the center. "That's what they learn to eat and when they go back into the wild they will eat all sorts of fish."

Many seal pups are left on shore temporarily as their mothers go and feed.

Beachgoers who spot pups should not approach them, Whitmer said, because it endangers their chances for survival. 

"If you see a pup on the beach, stay clear, maybe use a zoom lens," she said. 

Mother seals may abandon offspring, leaving them to die after seeing their pups encounter humans. 

Before the pups learn to feed themselves they are treated in the Marine Mammal hospital.

"When they first come in the most important thing for them is calories and fluids. They are dehydrated and malnourished so that's what we attend to first. Also we treat infections and check their blood," said Whitmer. 

The Marine Mammal Center is in need of volunteers. To see what opportunities are available, visit