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Experts warn: 'Leave seal pups alone'

As the local harbor seal population enters its annual pupping season, experts urge beachgoers to steer clear of baby seals – even if they appear abandoned.

Mother seals give birth to one pup at a time and often leave their newborns on an empty shoreline while they forage for food for up to 24 hours, according to NOAA's guidelines on viewing marine life.

The beach in the early morning looks much different than it does around noon, and if a mother seal returns to see on-lookers crowding her baby, she will not approach land, leaving the pup vulnerable to real abandonment.

Victoria Souze has been part of the Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network since 2007, when the volunteer-based organization started. She and about 20 active volunteers respond to deceased and stranded sea mammals along almost 200 miles of coastline.

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