Alameda residents concerned harbor seals may find new home amid construction project

ALAMEDA, Calif. (KTVU) - Many Alameda residents are concerned a new construction project may send a group of harbor seals swimming away for good.

The seals have been sun bathing on a dilapidated dock near the former Alameda Naval Air Station.

The dock has attracted a group of perhaps 10 seals, including a pup.  They have won the hearts of many who love watching them.

"Mostly they are just sitting there, 'lazing' around. Very rarely you'll see them jump up out of the water," said Rachel Campos, an Alameda resident who first noticed them a  few years ago.

But the Water Emergency Transportation Authority which plans to run its ferry service from the same area is looking to demolish the old dock and build a new one.

A group of residents are concerned that once the old dock goes, so will the seals.

"I’m really worried they will leave and not come back," said Campos.

"One of the realities is the dock is in such poor condition even if our project wasn't going forward there's a chance it would fall away in a matter of years," said Mike Gougherty, project  manager at the WETA.

So the ferry authority has hired a seal expert who has come up with a recommendation - coax the seals to a new floating dock with ramps, first placing it near the old dock,  then place it out further after a short time.

"They're talking about moving them not very much further. But hopefully enough to be away from the ferries and still have a supportive habitat," said Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer.

There's no guarantee the seals would like the new dock. But everyone involved agrees it's the best chance of keeping them here.

"They're our little friends. They are Alameda's best kept secret.," said Campos.

If the plan is awarded the necessary permits, the new floating dock will go up in December.

Then we'll all know if the seals will go for it.