Enjoy the Bay all winter on a Save The Bay Seal Tour!

Enjoy the Bay all winter on a Save The Bay Seal Tour!

By Conor LaLonde, communications intern

My journey begins at Bowen’s Wharf in Newport, Rhode Island. It’s a brisk yet sunny Saturday on Narragansett Bay, with waves gently rolling into the marina. Today, I’m attending a Save The Bay Seal Tour!

Two children wearing life jackets hold binoculars on board a STB education vesserl during a Seal Tour. An adult woman crouches nearby pointing off to the distance.
Passengers of all ages enjoy Save The Bay’s seal tours and nature cruises.

The passengers waiting on the dock are mostly families and couples, and we all excitedly board one of Save The Bay’s education vessels, the M/V Elizabeth Morris. This boat brings thousands of people—from students to people enjoying public programs (like this one)—out on Narragansett Bay each year. The friendly Save The Bay staff invites us to grab a pair of binoculars as we start to reach open water, with Newport Harbor in full view behind us.

During our journey, we learn all about harbor seals, the Rhode Island State Marine Mammal. Since the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, harbor seal populations have steadily rebounded. They migrate from Maine and the Atlantic Provinces of Canada down to Rhode Island from November through April for the warmer waters, natural shelter and abundance of food in the water. 

We approach Rose Island, home to a lighthouse and incomplete fort built during World War II, where seals can often be spotted hauling out on the rocky outcroppings by the shore. We grab our binoculars and scramble to the back of the vessel to see if we can spy our seal friends. While the seals were not hauled out at Rose Island today, the picturesque views on the water are unmatched. A group of attendees on the tour hails from the West Coast, and they are especially excited to see what the Bay has to offer on this November Saturday.

seals hauled out on a rock in Narragansett Bay
Seals often haul out at Citing Rock, one of the stops on a Save The Bay Seal Tour!

The vessel continues on under the Newport Bridge to another common seal hideaway at Citing Rock before making its way to Coddington Cove. We did spy some seals “bottling” with their puppy-like faces peeking out of the water. We grab our binoculars again as the Captain maneuvers the vessel to provide us the best possible angle for seal-spotting. 

Throughout the tour, the staff emphasizes the importance of protecting the habitats these seals call home. We return to Bowen’s Wharf with new knowledge of harbor seals, their yearly migrations into Narragansett Bay, and Save The Bay’s vision of a fully swimmable, fishable, healthy Narragansett Bay, accessible to all. The opportunity to learn on a Save The Bay vessel and see harbor seals in their natural habitat made for a truly memorable experience.

Seal Tours are running out of Newport from November through April! Learn more and reserve your seat today at savebay.org/seal