Here’s an interesting question. Imagine you were on a leisurely bike ride along the coast and came across a coyote harassing a seal pup. What would you do?

Not sure? Well, this actually happened to a group of cyclists biking down Highway 1 in San Simeon, Calif., and what they did was exactly what anyone should do in similar circumstances.

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After noticing the seal pup in distress, they distracted the coyote and called The Marine Mammal Center’s 24-hour hotline. The Center, a nonprofit veterinary research hospital and educational center dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of ill and injured marine mammals promptly dispatched a group of trained volunteers to the scene. Upon examining the pup, they determined that she had probably wandered off an elephant seal breeding area nearby, before being spotted – first by the real coyote and then by the bicyclists.

The seal pup was named “Coyote” and transferred to the Marine Mammal Center’s hospital in Sausalito, Calif. Sarah van Schagen from the Marine Mammal Center told OGP that Coyote is doing well, but will need to stay on-site until she gains a healthy amount of weight and can prove she will be able to survive on her own in the wild.

Judging by the photos below, it looks like Coyote is settling well in her new home. She’s now sporting a “hat tag” – it helps the Center identify multiple animals in one pen and also helps them identify animals once they’ve been released (if someone sees Coyote’s hat tag, they can call the Center and let them know that she’s doing O.K.)

Here’s Coyote, looking very relieved to be rescued!

Sarah van Schagen © The Marine Mammal Center
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After a few days of tube-feeding her mashed-up fish (a.k.a. “fish smoothies”), the Center’s  volunteers started giving Coyote a daily session of “fish school” to get her interested in eating whole fish.

Sarah van Schagen © The Marine Mammal Center

Coyote has already started eating whole fish. Soon, she’ll have to learn how to forage on her own and compete for fish with other animals.

Sarah van Schagen © The Marine Mammal Center

“More food please, I’m not ready to be out on my own just yet!”

Sarah van Schagen © The Marine Mammal Center

“Y’know, I’m really in no rush to get out of here. Thanks Marine Mammal Center!”

Sarah van Schagen © The Marine Mammal Center
 
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Coyote’s story is a great reminder that the best thing anyone can do when they come across an animal that’s stranded, injured, or in any kind of trouble is to do exactly what the bicyclists did – call a rescue hotline in your area!

When it comes to seals, spring is pupping season, which is when mother seals and sea lions give birth all along the Calif. coast and seal pups on beaches are likely to become a common sight.

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“If you see a seal pup on a beach that looks ill or injured, one should resist the urge to touch it, pick it up,  take it home, return it to the water, cover it with a blanket, or approach them too close, because the pup might just be waiting for its Mom to come back from finding food, and you may end up doing more harm than good,” Sarah van Schagen from the Marine Mammal Center tells OGP.

That’s great advice! Read more about the Centers “Leave Seals Be” campaign here,  and participate in the Marine Mammal Center’s Dollar-a-Pound challenge by clicking here.

And don’t forget…if you come across an abandoned, injured, stranded, sick, and lost animal in need, find the nearest hotline by using this tool!

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