The Oak Bay Marina’s newest resident is less than two feet long.
A harbour seal and her pup have taken to spending time at the marina near the fish cleaning station, according to Barnacle Systems Inc., a local boat security company that’s been capturing the mom and pup with a live seal cam.
The pup, which staff first noticed about two weeks ago when it was very “fresh” and “about the size of a football,” has since grown to about two feet long.
“The pup is piggybacking on the mom and nursing, now it’s playing and splashing around,” said Brandon Wright, Barnacle Systems CEO, adding that it appears many times as if the pup and its mother are giving each other kisses. The mom sometimes leaves the pup beneath the floating dock while she hunts.
The Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, while happy to hear of the pup and its mom, warn the public to keep a safe distance – both for the seals and themselves.
“Pups only spend four to six weeks with their mom. They have a long way to go in a short period of time,” said Lindsaye Akhurst, manager of Ocean Wise Marine Mammal Rescue. “Respecting that space is hugely important.”
Akhurst said the live cam is an excellent way to get close to the wildlife.
“You can get that up close and personal look at the animal without disrespecting their space,” she said.
The Oak Bay company installed the seal camera last year and the livestream took off in popularity, sometimes bringing in close to 6,000 viewers at a time.
Now the pup and mom, who is known around the marina as Clarice, are drawing the adoration of both marina-users and at-home viewers.
The company’s BRNKL boat security system has been used before at the marina. Since December, BRNKL cameras have captured a boat theft, a boat fire and now – a new baby.
“Between catching baby seals and boat thefts its been a pretty neat time,” Wright said.
The live seal cam is available online at Youtube.com.
With pupping season in full swing from June to October, Akhurst reminds the public that not all unattended pups are in need of assistance.
“It is normal for pups to be by themselves,” she said. “As cute and defenceless as they look, it is natural.”
If people observe an animal they believe to be in need of assistance, they can call the Marine Mammal Rescue at 604-836-7989. To report a person disturbing a marine mammal, call the incident reporting hotline at Fisheries and Oceans Canada at 1-800-465-4336.