I had no idea how much volunteer effort was involved in protecting the Carpinteria Seal Sanctuary. In fact, until I took a look at the map to CIF-SS Division 4 Track & Field Prelims at Carpenteria High School, I didn’t know the Carpinteria Seal Sanctuary even existed.
I had left early to make sure I could scope out the facility since I had never been to this venue before. As it turned out, the meet was starting much later than I thought so I had some extra time to kill. So, I took a detour to see what the Carpinteria Seal Sanctuary was all about.
I took a tight path from the parking lot and wound up on a ridge overlooking the sanctuary. There was a makeshift rope fence that signaled I could only go so far and two people just past the end looking off into the distance. One had binoculars (I learned her name is Robin), the other a stop sign. And down below there were hundreds of Harbor Seals laying on the beach.
It turns out that these Harbor Seals are very fragile. Robin told me that these seals have been here year-round for over 100 years. She also shared that they are “very fragile” and when their pups are still very young that’s particularly dangerous. Unlike the Sea Lions you see on the piers in San Francisco, these Harbor Seals are quiet and easily spooked by noise. When frightened, they can rush to the ocean, sometimes crushing their pups in the process. In addition, they can leave their pups for many hours while they hunt for food. This causes some to believe the pups are abandoned when they are not.
So every year during the pupping season, volunteers monitor the beach to keep people from disturbing the mothers and their pups. They are there from early morning to after sunset. Robin shared with me that their volunteer ranks have shrunk over the years and COVID-19 hadn’t helped.
There are only a few more weeks left in this pupping season and Robin was visibly tired. This post is a thank you to her. Thank you, Robin, for donating your time and energy to ensure these beautiful Harbor Seals are here for another 100 years.
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