It was meant to be an outing to take pictures of my 4th secret beach along the Mendocino Coast. I was excited to get some photos of a new beach I discovered just 3 miles down the road from Westport Beach where I am working for the summer.
A quite different scenario changed my purpose that day when a baby seal crawled out of the turbulent surf.
Even more astounding was its total lack of wariness in my presence. As I stood watching from about 30 feet away, this little guy started lumbering toward me. This was not natural behavior for a wild animal.
Just to be sure it knew I was there, I walked further away. The baby seal turned and began to follow me. It was then that I noticed it was wearing what looked like a little, yellow party hat.
The safest and best thing to do for the seal was to leave it. But not without a heavy heart in caring for its plight. On my way back to the car, I met some people with dogs and told them about the baby seal down the beach. They thanked me and said they’d keep their dogs away.
When I returned home I found the Marine Mammal Rescue phone number and called. The gal who answered quickly identified the baby seal from the “F1” party hat tag as “Spunky Gonzales”, a 4 month old Northern Elephant Seal who had been in their care.
Spunky was released back into the ocean just a week previous at a location 5 miles north of where I found him. Acclimatized to humans from daily handling and feedings, he was not afraid when he saw me.
Of all the discoveries I thought to make on my new secret beach, Spunky was nowhere near one of them. It’s a miracle we got to encounter each other.
Best present scenario for Spunky: he’s now out in the ocean, catching lots of scrumptious fishes, finding a seal family to travel with, and heading for summer feeding grounds out in the big blue yonder.
I learned a hard lesson from my experience with Spunky today. Sometimes we have to turn away from those in obvious need, even when it is a heart-wrenching thing to do, so they can find their own strength and freedom.
Ever Grateful ~