Arctic seal flops onto homeowner's dock in Seattle

January 19, 2012 

A male ribbon seal in seemingly excellent health recently climbed onto the private dock of a Seattle homeowner, becoming the first member of its species ever sighted in Washington state. Ribbon seals normally live in the far North Pacific and Arctic between Russia and Alaska, reports Our Amazing Planet.

Somehow, the seal turned up on the woman's property, about a mile from the mouth of the Duwamish River, a highly industrialized waterway that cuts through southern Seattle. In 2001, the EPA declared the last 5.5 miles of the river a Superfund site - an area contaminated with hazardous substances in need of cleanup.

The sighting was "pretty exciting," said Arctic seal researcher Peter Boveng, leader of the National Marine Mammal Laboratory's Polar Ecosystems Program. "It's really unusual."

Ribbon seals, named for the unmistakable stark white markings that ring their necks, flippers and hindquarters, typically shun dry land.

The species, which gives birth on sea ice, is being reviewed by the federal government for possible endangered status as Arctic ice recedes. A ribbon seal was seen in 1962 off Morro Bay, Calif. It was captured and soon died in captivity. The Vancouver Sun reports British Columbia also has never had a reported ribbon seal sighting.

Read more at Our Amazing Planet.

Anchorage Daily News is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service