All Aboard! Peak season to spy harbor seals on a Save The Bay Seal Tour

All Aboard! Peak season to spy harbor seals on a Save The Bay Seal Tour

By Brittany Hassell, communications intern

It’s a chilly winter day on a Save The Bay education vessel in Newport, Rhode Island, and yet the harbor seals lounge on the rocks that jet out of Narragansett Bay like it’s a tropical paradise. Their adorable puppy-like faces, unbothered, gander at everyone on board who peer right back through binoculars to get a better look.

Harbor-seals-in-Newport
Harbor seals hauled out off of Newport, Rhode Island.
All aboard!

Today, I’m a passenger on a Save The Bay seal tour, an exciting, family-friendly activity that can be enjoyed from November through April. As we load comfortably onto the vessel and depart Bowen’s Wharf, staff members welcome us over the loudspeaker.

On the voyage out, the knowledgeable staff share some captivating information about Narragansett Bay. They tell us about Save The Bay’s mission to protect and improve Narragansett Bay, and the excellent restoration and advocacy work being done to properly preserve the Bay and its ecosystems.

Harbor Seals in Narragansett Bay

Poster-sized photos of seals help us learn about their migratory patterns, behaviors and anatomy. Since the passing of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, which prohibits the killing, taking, or harassing of marine mammals, seal populations in Narragansett Bay have increased and stabilized, allowing us to see these wonderful creatures every winter. This month, during Save The Bay’s Bay-Wide Seal Count, volunteers counted 464 seals at 25 sites around the Bay, with Citing Rock in Newport being one of the most populated locations for harbor seals to haul out.

Elizabeth-Morris-docked-after-seal-tour
Happy guests disembark the Elizabeth Morris after spying some harbor seals at Citing Rock!
A Splash of Fun

The vessel is full of families, couples and individuals who are more than a little excited to see some seals! As we approach Citing Rock, passengers have binoculars and phones ready to capture the magnificent sight. Our friendly chitter-chatter turns into a loud chorus when one of the seals jumps out of the water like a dolphin and makes a big splash. We circle the haul-out site a few times, counting how many seals we can spy. Staff are eager to answer our questions and we actively learn why it’s necessary to protect this important habitat!

While I was excited to hop on a seal tour to get some fresh air and see some playful seals (despite the gray weather), the on-the-water views of Newport Harbor and informative insight from Save The Bay’s education staff made for a day I won’t soon forget. Seal populations are at their highest now through April, making it the perfect time to sign up for a Seal Tour with Save The Bay! Book your seat today at savebay.org/seals.

 

*Please note:  Be sure to access the Johnson & Wales University Harborside Campus through the main entrance on Harborside Blvd. Your GPS may suggest taking Ernest Street to JWU’s Shipyard Street entrance, but that route requires a key card for entry.  

From Route I-95 North or South, take Exit 18 (Thurbers Avenue). Head downhill on Thurbers Avenue to US Route 1A (Allens Avenue). Turn right onto Allens Ave. Continue southbound on Allens Ave. into Cranston, where Allens Ave. becomes Narragansett Blvd. Turn left onto Harborside Blvd. at the traffic light by the Shell gas station. Follow Harborside Blvd. through the Johnson & Wales Harborside Campus. At the end of Harborside Blvd., turn right onto Save The Bay Drive. Save The Bay Drive becomes a circular, one-way roadway as you approach the Bay Center. Parking is available in four guest lots after you pass the main building. Enter the building through the main entrance.

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