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Other Visitors: More Information

Description: Various non-intertidal species frequent Oregon's rocky shores. Two of the most easily identifiable are the black oystercatcher and harbor seal. Somewhat larger than a pigeon and with long peach-colored legs, black oystercatchers are about 17” tall.  Rather short-necked for a shorebird, these shorebirds are also unusual because their bodies are solid black.  The red-orange bill is heavy and somewhat flattened side to side, adapted more for prying and stabbing than for probing fine sediment. Black oystercatchers have a distinctive call too, rather like high-pitched laughter.

Although each one is unique, most harbor seals are brownish black to tan or blue-gray with fine light and dark speckled patterns. Harbor seals can reach approximately 6 feet in length and lack external ear flaps. Unlike some fellow pinnipeds (e.g., California sea lions), harbor seals have relatively short appendages and have a hard time getting around on land. In the spring, when tidepooling is popular, harbor seal pups are often found on the beach. Usually, they are not stranded, just resting while their mothers are off looking for food and should not be disturbed.

If you are concerned about the welfare of a seal pup or any other marine mammal you encounter, report it to the 24-hour Oregon State Police hotline at 800-452-7888. Please describe the situation and location of the animal so the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network (OMMSN) can follow up on your concerns. The OMMSN also has a page with stranding "do's and don'ts."

A brochure entitled "Marine Mammals on the Beach: When and How to Respond in the Pacific Northwest and Southern Alaska" includes helpful information about cetaceans, otters and pinnipeds and how to respond to a potential stranding.

For more detailed information about Oregon's shorebirds, seabirds, and marine mammals, visit the coastal wildlife viewing page of Oregon's coastal branch of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

For an interactive map of other wildlife viewing opportunities in Oregon, visit the ODFW Wildlife Viewing Map.