Stranded seal pups rescued in Haines

The light blond fur is a sign that the seal pup was born prematurely. (Photo courtesy of Haines Animal Rescue Kennel)

Haines Animal Rescue Kennel director Tracy Mikowski had a very eventful weekend after two newborn harbor seal pups were found stranded on local beaches. 

Haines resident Ron Jackson found the first seal pup Friday afternoon while canoing between Carr’s Cove and Letnikoff Cove. 

“When I saw the seal I looked around to see if there were any mature seals out there in the water looking at me and there wasn’t anything in sight,” Jackson said. “It didn’t seem afraid of me. It was very weak. It was able to crawl a little bit and then it would stop and rest. It was pretty worn out. It looked like it needed help.”

So Jackson called Mikowski at the Haines Animal Rescue Kennel (HARK).

In an email Mikowski said she had to get permission to approach the seal because of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. So she started making calls. First to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, then the Alaska Sealife Center Stranding hotline, who then got in touch with the National Marine Fisheries Service. They asked a lot of questions and she sent them photos and videos of the seal pup. 

When they determined that the seal pup should be assisted, Mikowski told Jackson to sit tight until she could get there. 

He said he spent about a half hour with the pup before carrying it up to her. 

“It was such a soft, squishy little animal. When I pick my dog up I feel bones and things like that, but this one was like a big, fur bag full of water,” Jackson said.

HARK director Tracy Mikowski transported the seals to Juneau by plane. (Photo courtesy of HARK)

Mikowski said the seal pup was a male and appeared to have born prematurely based on its fuzzy blond coat and lack of teeth. She placed it in a crate and had it on a flight to Juneau within two hours of picking it up. Unfortunately, it did not survive long enough to make it to the Alaska Sealife Center in Seward. 

A second seal pup, this time a female, was found stranded just south of the Haines ferry terminal on Sunday. Alaska Seaplanes had closed for the day, so Mikowski took the seal pup home with her. With guidance from Alaska Sealife Center staff, she was able to give the seal pup fluids and keep her comfortable until she could be flown out on Monday morning. 

Mikowski says the seal made it safely to the Sealife Center in Seward where they will raise it until hopefully it can be released back into the wild.