Popeye is a female harbor seal commonly spotted at the Port of Friday Harbor. She’s got one blind, milky eye (hence her name) and she’s become something of a local celebrity.
Popeye was originally attracted to the harbor by food scraps dumped by fishermen. As locals and tourists continued to feed her, she became a regular at the harbor. The people of Friday Harbor loved Popeye so much they dubbed her the “Official Seal” of the port, and erected a statue in her honor. But, Popeye has become aggressive as she’s aged. Harbor seals generally only live 25 to 30 years and it’s estimated that Popeye is about 30. Old, grumpy, and impatient to be fed, Popeye will sometimes bite those who ignore her or are too slow to offer food.
Feeding wild marine mammals is illegal, and Popeye is a great example of why it’s important to follow this law. She has become dependent on and aggressively demanding of food provided by humans. Local authorities are hoping to discourage the feeding of Popeye to protect the next generations of seals from also becoming dependent on human handouts. If you happen to spot Popeye at Friday Harbor, or one of her offspring, enjoy the sight from afar and remember to give wildlife their space, as much for your safety as theirs.