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Seal Supporters Say New Dock Set To Arrive Next Month

Seals lounge on a dilapidated dock at Alameda Point, May 7, 2016. (Action Alameda News)

Seals lounge on a dilapidated dock at Alameda Point, May 7, 2016. (Action Alameda News)

Local activists who lobbied for a new seal haul-out dock to be built along with a new ferry maintenance terminal at Alameda Point say the dock should arrive in June. And they’re asking for help on monitoring usage. (Ed. note – to be clear, the activists lobbied for the dock, not the maintenance terminal.)

In March of last year, the City of Alameda and the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) came to an agreement that, along with a new maintenance building to be constructed just east of the deep water piers at Alameda Point, construction would include a dock to replace a derelict one that seals use for haul-out.

The old dock was to be removed with construction of the new building.

The new dock will be stationed first near the location of the old dock, to entice the seals to use it, then it will be moved a few hundred feet eastward.

Mark Klein, with Alameda Point Harbor Seal Monitors, told Action Alameda News the new dock should arrive in June.

The dock comes with a catch, however. The Bay Conservation and Development Commission requires weekly monitoring of the dock to ensure the seals are using it, otherwise it might be removed.

“As it turns out, I had initiated a monitoring of the seals, with daily counts, back in January of 2015, and that database is ongoing with a few volunteers,” Klein wrote, by e-mail.

But the monitoring group is making an appeal for more volunteers, in the hope that seal counts can take place daily.

Klein said that he had been working at the Marine Mammal Center for four years, taking care of baby harbor seals, when he heard about the planned removal of the old dock.

“So I naturally had a connection with the seals, and became involved,” he said. “All too often, industrial development is pushed forward without much concern for the impact on nature, and pretty soon there’s no wildlife around, and sometimes whole species go extinct as a result. While the harbor seals are not a threatened species, it’s a great joy to have them nearby and be able to view them from the shoreline. I often see people stop by the old dock just to do that. That’s a precious local asset, since often harbor seals are in remote locations that are hard to get to. And it’s good for the seals, who need a reliable haul-out, which they use not only for resting but also nursing their young.”

The monitoring group provides instructions to volunteers on how to count and report seal observations.

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