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New Year, New Pup! Meet Yule: Our First Harbor Seal Pup of 2015

Pupping season has started early at The Marine Mammal Center, with our first harbor seal pup admitted a few days after the new year’s arrival.

April 21, 2015

Yule was among six harbor seals released at Chimney Rock
© The Marine Mammal Center

Our first pup of the year was also one of the first harbor seals to return to the wild. Over the last three and a half months, Yule has been growing steadily as he learned how to eat fish on his own and compete with other seals.

Just 12 pounds when he was rescued, Yule tipped the scales at more than 54 pounds by the end of his rehabilitation at our hospital. He and five other harbor seals deemed ready for release by our veterinary team were all weighed and measured on April 16 just before being loaded onto a transport truck.

Yule, Legna, Kwikspell, Tonks, Ronniekins and Bubbie were released at Chimney Rock in Point Reyes National Seashore, a remote beach north of San Francisco.

January 23, 2015

Yule is the first harbor seal pup of 2015.
© Sarah van Schagen - The Marine Mammal Center


Just four days into 2015, our first pup of the year was rescued by the Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Center and brought to The Marine Mammal Center for rehabilitation.

Named “Yule” in celebration of the holiday season, this fuzzy, gray harbor seal pup was two feet long and weighed about 12 pounds when he was found abandoned outside The Biltmore, a Four Seasons Resort located right on the beach in Santa Barbara, California.

Estimated to be no more than a few days old at the time of his rescue, Yule could not have survived on his own without his mother. Since arriving in our care, he’s being receiving nearly round-the-clock feedings, starting early in the morning and continuing late into the night.

Pups this young are still nursing, so Yule must be tube-fed a special milk formula. Along with his formula, Yule is also receiving a standard course of vitamins and antibiotics to help treat any infections and boost his fragile newborn immune system. Without the antibodies from his mother’s milk, Yule is at higher risk of illness.

Yule the harbor seal pup 1

Volunteers prepare to feed Yule by inserting a tube into his mouth. Sarah van Schagen © The Marine Mammal Center

Yule the harbor seal pup 2

Volunteers Raya Smith (left) and Ben Calvert tube-feed Yule a special milk formula. Sarah van Schagen © The Marine Mammal Center

Yule the harbor seal pup 3

Staff Veterinarian Dr. Cara Field listens to Yule's lungs during a check-up. Sarah van Schagen © The Marine Mammal Center

Yule the harbor seal pup 4

Without the antibodies from his mother's milk, Yule is at higher risk of illness. Sarah van Schagen © The Marine Mammal Center

Yule the harbor seal pup 5

Volunteers Rusty Rosenberg and Sue Hawley give Yule one of his five daily feedings. Sarah van Schagen © The Marine Mammal Center

Yule the harbor seal pup 6

Yule is also receiving vitamins and antibiotics to boost his fragile immune system. Sarah van Schagen © The Marine Mammal Center


Our veterinary team has been keeping a close eye on his umbilical stump, the wound left after his umbilical cord fell off, which can be a common source of infection. So far, Yule seems to be in good health and has been getting stronger every day.

After nearly three weeks in our care, Yule has already gained 7 pounds, and soon, he’ll be strong enough to start spending some time in the pool. For now, Yule is the only harbor seal in our care, so our animal care experts have put a large harbor seal stuffed animal in his pen to keep him company and provide enrichment.

Yule still faces a long road to recovery. He’ll remain in our care until he grows stronger and learns how to catch and compete for fish, essential skills for survival in the wild.

Leave Seals Be
Yule is our first pup of 2015, but he won’t be the last. During the first half of the year, mother seals and sea lions give birth at rookeries all along the California coast—and that means we rescue more and more pups.

If you see a seal pup on a beach that looks sick or injured, please resist the urge to pick it up and remember that it’s always best to leave seals be. Instead, call our 24-hour rescue hotline at 415-289-SEAL (7325).


You Can Make a Difference

Help provide the critical care that marine mammal pups like Yule need to be successfully returned to their ocean home. Your support goes a long way to help these animals get a second chance at life.




Find out more about our Leave Seals Be campaign.

Learn about Pacific harbor seals!

Read about the Marine Mammal Protection Act

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