Monday, February 20, 2017

My first Seal Tour

By Andrew Gorham, communications intern

Despite living in Rhode Island for my entire life, I can probably count on one hand, or less, the number of times I’ve actually seen seals in the wild. Fortunately enough, I recently had the opportunity to go on my first-ever seal tour with Save The Bay. As a current intern at Save The Bay, of course I was going to take advantage of the chance to see some of Narragansett Bay’s winter-time visitors in their natural habitat.

For February, the day was perfect—cold but refreshing—and the sky and water were blue as can be. From Newport, our small group set sail on the M/V Alletta Morris and headed toward Citing Rock, a popular spot for lounging harbor seals. On the way to our destination, we enjoyed the great scenery of Narragansett Bay’s West Passage and the Newport Bridge and some fun seal facts from our guide, Captain Eric Pfirrmann. After a short journey, our boat closed in on Citing Rock.

As we approached, it was hard to tell if there were any seals out and about, but, sure enough, there they were. Twenty or so harbor seals were hauled out on the rocks, basking in the warm sun, flopping around and enjoying the Bay, just like we were—enjoying the Bay, that is. They were having such a great time that I was almost jealous of them! After spending some time circling the rock and getting a closer look at the group of seals through a pair of binoculars, we prepared to head back to port. The hour-long tour was surely worthwhile.

Heading back, I thought of how easily anyone could go see seals at an aquarium, but that it would never be the same as seeing them out in the Bay. There’s nothing like being out on the water and feeling the ocean’s mist on your face, all the while getting to view some pretty entertaining animals. I also had the chance to reflect upon the importance of restoring and conserving habitats, such as Narragansett Bay. We learned from Captain Eric that only a few decades ago, the seal population in the Bay was dwindling, but have since returned in strength due to conservation efforts. Being able to see firsthand the results of these efforts gave an even stronger connection to Narragansett Bay, and it is not something I will easily forget. Besides, how could you not feel an affinity for animals that are so cute?

You, too, can share a similar experience by going on your own Save The Bay seal tour. Tours depart from Newport, Rhode Island, and Fall River, Massachusetts, through the end of April and are perfect for all ages. Visit www.savebay.org/seals or call (401) 203-7325 to book a tour to see our favorite winter-time visitors before they’re gone for the summer!