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Party Time! Harbor Seal Pup Fiesta Resighted in the Wild

After harbor seal pup Fiesta was released back to the wild, he swam 200 miles south to join other harbor seals at a popular hangout in Monterey.

September 7, 2018

Harbor seal Fiesta in Monterey. Photo © Kim M. Akeman

Recently, a new face was spotted at a popular harbor seal haulout area in Monterey. Photos posted on The Harbor Seals of Pacific Grove Facebook page showed a seal pup with a bright orange flipper tag number W3653 on his left flipper. It was Fiesta, a former patient at The Marine Mammal Center! But how did he get all the way to Monterey?

We first met Fiesta in April, when the rescue team at the Center received notice of a harbor seal pup that seemed to be in critical condition. He was facing harassment from beach-goers getting too close and looked sickeningly thin. With no mother in sight, he’d been separated from his mother before he could fend for himself.

Harbor seal Fiesta at the time of his rescue. Photo © The Marine Mammal Center

Our trained response volunteers brought Fiesta to our Sausalito hospital for rehabilitative care. Just a week old when he was admitted, Fiesta was severely underweight and suffering from malnutrition.

To help Fiesta grow strong, he was tube-fed a special milk formula similar to the milk he would have gotten from his mother. He needed to learn to catch whole fish on his own before his release back into the wild. So later, when he was strong enough, he moved on to fish school to learn that whole fish were good to eat.

After about three months of rehabilitative care, Fiesta had graduated fish school, gained a healthy amount of weight and was ready for his second chance at life! He was released in June at Chimney Rock in Point Reyes National Seashore, a protected beach north of San Francisco with plenty of harbor seals.

Harbor seal Fiesta is released at Chimney Rock.
Photo by Brian Simuro © The Marine Mammal Center

About six weeks later, Fiesta was re-sighted almost 200 miles south from where he was released! He was spotted at Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, near Monterey. That’s quite a long swim for such a young pup! But the best news is that Fiesta looks healthy and seems to be catching plenty of fish on his own since his release two months ago.

You Make Second Chances Possible!
Giving Fiesta got a second chance at life was made possible by supporters just like you! You can make a real difference for pups like Fiesta with your gift today.

See Something? Say Something!
If you see a seal or sea lion pup on a beach that looks sick or injured, or is being harassed by people or dogs, please resist the urge to pick it up or get too close. The best thing you can do for these animals is to politely ask others to Leave Seals Be and call our 24-hour rescue hotline at 415-289-SEAL (7325) so that our experts can assess the situation and rescue the animal if needed.

And if you happen to see any marine mammals with flipper tags, be sure to take note of the tag number and report the sighting by calling our 24-hour hotline: 415-289-SEAL (7325).




Learn about: Pacific harbor seals

Learn how important it is to Leave Seals Be

Learn how you can: Get Involved to Help Marine Mammals!

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