A search is underway for a young ring seal that came ashore Sunday in Unalaska.
The stranded marine mammal was first spotted near the Kloosterboer facility at the Port of Dutch Harbor, but Melissa Good said it made its way to the Alyeska seafood plant before disappearing back into the water Monday night.
“We’re not sure if it’s sick or injured, but it’s definitely not acting healthy,” said Good, an agent for the Alaska Sea Grant program and a responder for the National Marine Mammal Stranding Network.
Good said the seal has looked lethargic over the past two days, while its coat has become matted with feces and urine.
She said it’s very unusual to see this species so far south.
“Ring seals are ice-associated seals, so they hang out wherever there’s sea ice,” she said. “They use ice as a platform to hunt and get food, so it looks like this guy is way out of his normal range.”
With so many stressors at work, Good said rehabilitation is now the seal’s best chance at survival.
“The Marine Mammal Stranding Network has made the decision to pick it up and send it out to the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, mainly because it didn’t appear to be getting any better while we were watching it,” she said.
Before the seal can get help, though, Good has to track it down again.
She’s asking Unalaskans to keep an eye out for the marine mammal, which was last spotted Monday at 10 p.m. near Alyeska.
“If anybody sees it, try not to approach it too closely,” she said. “And don’t touch it. Whatever you do, don’t touch it.”
Good said that’s the safest course of action for the seal and the people who may encounter it.
She said anyone who sees this ring seal — or any stranded marine mammal — should contact the Unalaska Department of Public of Safety.