A few days ago, a small seal pup washed up on the shore of one of UCSB’s beaches, near the Chi-5 residence cluster. The Channel Islands Marine and Wildlife Institute promptly took action and is tending to the seal to prepare for its safe re-entry into the sea.
On Anacapa Beach, the baby seal was found stranded and slightly malnourished. The Channel Island Marine and Wildlife Institute (CIMWI) took action, putting up an enclosure to protect the animal. Signage to protect it was added, encouraging beach-goers to stay 50 feet away from the animal, and leave pets at home.
The signs also included information on facts regarding northern elephant seal pups and their nursing cycles, growth patterns, and how they go about their days.
Baby seals get fed by their mothers on the beach, and afterwards, their moms leave, while the pups relax on the beach. There, they sleep, roll around in the sand, and stretch until night, when they return to the ocean.
This pup has since been returned to the ocean after finishing “weaning.” This feeding period with their mother typically lasts a month, where each day they find a beach to feed and relax on, before returning to the ocean at night and repeating the cycle in the morning.
Myriam Arias, a second year in the College of Creative Studies, actually caught a glimpse of the animal and its temporary enclosure. “He was so small and lonely-looking. It, like, yelled out as this bird passed overhead. I felt bad.”
The Channel Island Marine and Wildlife Institute serves 153 miles of coast, saving marine mammals, like seals, dolphins, and whales, as well as turtles, that are in danger before bringing them in for rehab before releasing them back into their ecosystems. The organization also seeks to inform people on how they can best aid the sea creatures around them.
Their website states that they participate not only in rescues, but education, so as to promote positive change for our shores and oceans.
Elleni Velasquez, a second year environmental studies major, mentioned her surprise regarding the Institute, telling The Bottom Line “I didn’t even know we had something like that around here. I would’ve just called the cops or something. It makes me happy people are actually doing something to bring a little life to these beaches back.”
While a chief veterinarian advises the group on how to handle each individual situation and mammal, most members of the group are volunteers who aid in maintaining facilities, formulating lesson plans for schools and events, and assessing animals. Afterwards, they’re brought into the CIMWI’s center in Gaviota.
Illustration by Esther Liu