Harbor seal pupping season has begun in Carpinteria. The beach surrounding the local rookery is closed between Dec. 1 and May 31 to provide a safe, sheltered location for harbor seals to rest on the sand, give birth and nurse their young. Volunteers from Sealwatch take shifts on the blufftop above the rookery from sunup to sundown between Jan. 1 and May 31 to educate members of the public about the beach closure and the natural history of the harbor seals.

Signs are posted on the beach at either side of the rookery to mark the closure as dictated by Carpinteria Municipal Code. Violators have been prosecuted. The federal Marine Mammal Protection Act also protects seals. Under MMPA, a disturbance, which is anything that disrupts natural behavioral patterns, including nursing, breeding, feeding or sheltering, can lead to a penalty up to $25,000. To sign up to volunteer or to learn more, call (805) 684-2247.

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