Charlie the Seal and his friends, photo courtesy USCG
Since the Coast Guard allowed pets at lighthouses, the men fed Charlie table scraps and even caught fish for him. Eventually, the little seal followed them everywhere, even into the tower itself.
On the remote Farallon Islands some twenty miles from the coast of San Francisco, there are few inhabitants, except when the migrating seal herds appear for their annual visit. During that time, thousands of seals line the shore where they have their young before traveling on.
When Keeper Max Schlederer was assigned to the Southeast Farallon Island Lighthouse, he could only communicate with his girlfriend Jackie by writing letters. One night while on duty, Max heard the voice of a crying seal pup. When he found the pup, he realized it had been left behind by the herd because it was blind.
Max took the little seal into the lighthouse and put it into a tub of water. He began to apply poultices and boric acid solutions to the seal’s eyes. The medication worked and the seal regained its eyesight. The baby seal was too young to feed on its own, so the keepers started feeding it, first with bread and milk, then fish and abalone as it grew larger. Oscar must have thought Max was his mother, following him around and even sleeping under the bed in his tub.