Carpinteria Harbor Seal Sanctuary
We hope you will enjoy seeing the harbor seals and their pups in their native habitat here in the City of Carpinteria. Please protect the sanctuary and obey all laws that protect the seals. Always keep your own safety in mind when viewing the seals. Stay back from the high cliffs. Please ask the Seal Watch volunteer on duty for guidance on how to enjoy the seals without disturbing them.
Pupping Season at the Carpinteria Rookery
Pupping season at the Carpinteria rookery generally occurs from January through May. Pups weigh about 8-20 pounds at birth but grow rapidly on the mother’s rich milk. Pups are weaned in about three to six week. They are born with a thin layer of blubber and with a natal coat of fine fur which they shed at birth. Moms often temporarily leave pups on the beach in search of food.
Disturbances are any action that changes the seals natural behavior. A serious disturbance will cause one or more animals to move to the safety of the water. This fright and flight reaction is a learned response. The young pups often remain on the beach after the adults have gone into the water when the sanctuary is disturbed. The time soon after birth is critical to establishing the mother-pup bond. If the mother and pup become separated due to a disturbance the pup is likely to be abandoned and die of starvation. It is common, however to see pups alone while the mother has gone into the water foraging for food. The beach is closed 750’ east and west of the Casitas Pier by the City of Carpinteria municipal ordinance from December 1 through May 31 to protect pregnant mothers and pups from disturbances. Disturbances are prohibited at any time of the year by the Federal Marine Mammal Protection Act.
LAWS THAT PROTECT THE SEALS
City of Carpinteria Municipal Code# 12.24.090 closes the beach 750’ east and 750’ west of the rookery from December 1 through May 31 each year. Violators can be cited for a misdemeanor by sworn officers or by citizens. The area in the ocean that extends 1,000’ is closed during this period.
The Federal Marine Mammal Protection Act imposes a fine of up to $10,000 and/or one year in prison for disturbances of the seals or actions that frighten seals. Dog owners are liable for disturbances and injuries perpetrated by their dogs.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SEE A SEAL OR PUP ON THE BEACH
- Do not touch it. Seals are protected by the Federal Marine Mammal Protection Act that restricts handling to only licensed persons
- Stay a good distance away from the animal so as not to frighten it. Caution other beach goers to do the same. Ask dog owners to remove their pets.
- Seal pups are often left on the beach while mothers feed. Stay far away and help to prevent others from disturbing the pup. If you approach the pup you may prevent the mother from returning. Do not walk between the water and the pup.
- Call one or more of the following to make a report or ask for further information
Carpinteria Seal Watch:
For Law Enforcement and Public Safety Services:
For assistance from the City of Carpinteria:
If you do not get an immediate response and have the time, simply continue to alert others to the pup’s location and advise them as to proper pup/seal protocol.