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Ocean Shores police free seal trapped in fishing net

Two Ocean Shores police officers rescued a Guadalupe Fur Seal trapped in a fishing net on the beach. The threatened species is rare to the Northwest and commonly found off the coast of Mexico.

After working for the Ocean Shores Police Department for 14 years, Sgt. Kyle Watson has responded to all kinds of calls for help. But never like the one he got Monday morning.

A beachgoer found a seal trapped in a fishing net.

“He was a mess,” said Sgt. Watson, who hasn’t been trained how to handle a wild seal.

Rather than wait for wildlife officials to get to the beach, Sgt. Watson pulled out a knife and started cutting the netting.

“I figured if the animal went back in the water, it was going to die,” said Sgt. Watson. “There's no way it's going to keep surviving in the water the way it has been.”

Also see | Near-death seal rehabbed, released near Everett

Sgt. Watson and his partner, Officer Chris Elia, were able to keep the seal from biting them as they eventually freed it from the netting and watched it hop back into the Pacific Ocean.

"We all get caught up in stuff like that,” said Sgt. Watson. “I just hope there's somebody there to cut me loose if I need to."

Wildlife officials believe the seal was a Guadalupe Fur Seal, a threatened species more commonly found off the coast of Mexico.

Also see | Reminder: Don't touch seal pups or other newborn wildlife

According to the Cascadia Research Collective, beachgoers who find mammals should stay a safe distance away, contact authorities, and take photographs to document the conditions.

The Marine Mammal Stranding Network has a hotline set up to handle mammal discoveries on the beach. The hotline number is 866-767-6114.