2014 Changes to the Superintendent's Compendium
Point Reyes National Seashore will be including an unmanned aircraft closure to the Superintendent's Compendium. The NPS invites the public to submit written suggestions, comments, and concerns about this change. Comment deadline is August 19. More »
Point Reyes National Seashore Harbor Seal Mortalities
Contact: Dr. Sarah Allen, 415-464-5187
An unusual number of dead harbor seals have been washing onshore at Point Reyes National Seashore since early April of this year, with a large concentration the last two weeks. Personnel from the Marine Mammal Stranding Network which is comprised of several agencies and organizations including the National Marine Fisheries Service, California Academy of Sciences, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, Marine Mammal Center, and Point Reyes National Seashore.
Personnel from these groups have been surveying beaches and collecting data and tissue samples from these dead seals. These samples are being analyzed at UC Davis Veterinary School of Medicine. Approximately 35 seals have washed to shore, mostly north of Bolinas within Point Reyes National Seashore. Most of the animals found have been dead for several weeks. The likely cause of death is from a sudden virus, since the general condition of the animals was determined after evaluation as good. There is no evidence of human intervention to date.
The harbor seal population at Point Reyes National Seashore represents approximately 20% of the population in California. Please do not approach live seals closer than 100 yards and do not disturb seals by flushing them into the water. Seals normally rest onshore for several hours per day in large groups; if disturbed too often, the seals will permanently leave an area. There are a number of haul out sites within Point Reyes including Tomales Bay, Limantour and Drakes Esteros, and Bolinas Lagoon.
If you come across a sick or dead animal, please report it to the Stranding Network at (415) 750-7177, ext. 2.
Did You Know?
Harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) are present in the waters of Point Reyes year round. Every spring, approximately 7,000 harbor seals, or 20% of the mainland California breeding population, haul out on the beaches of Point Reyes. Look for them in the esteros and in Tomales Bay and Bolinas Lagoon. More...