澳门6合开奖结果

ENTERTAINMENT

Want to see a harbor seal? Bundle up, because winter is the best time for this Newport tour

Greg Sullivan
Special to The Newport Daily 澳门6合开奖结果

NEWPORT 鈥 Do not assume you must wait until warm weather arrives in order to enjoy an aquatic animal watch in these parts.

Seal watch tours 鈥 more specifically, harbor seal watch tours 鈥 are a . And as long as you dress smart, in layers and with some nylon for wind and moisture blockage, this affordable option should be a treat.

The tours last an hour, departing from and returning to Perrotti Park, 37 America's Cup Ave., on the waterfront. The migratory harbor seals like to hang out on . Save The Bay's harbor seal watch tours start in November and run until April, at which time the cold water-loving seals start their trek north, summering along the New Hampshire, Maine and Canadian Maritime coasts.

Seal watch tours 鈥 more specifically, harbor seal watch tours 鈥 are a winter and early spring option run by Save The Bay.

In addition to the one-hour harbor seal watch tour, Save The Bay also offers a two-hour Seal & Lighthouse Tour that includes a stop on Narragansett Bay's Rose Island.

The seals seen on the Save The Bay tours are different from the larger gray seals so commonly seen, year round, along the coasts of Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. Harbor seals range in size from 4.5 to 5.5 feet/100-175 pounds for females and 5 to 6 feet/175-275 pounds for males. The gray seals check in at 6-7 feet/600-700 pounds and live in much larger colonies than do the harbor seals.

Seal watch tours last an hour, departing from and returning to Perotti Park, 37 America's Cup Ave., on the waterfront.

The harbor seal Save The Bay tours run on weekends and on holidays and school vacation weeks. The departure times vary, with the STB vessels leaving Perotti Park around low tide when Citing Rock is most exposed, meaning more space for leisure-loving seals.

Eric Epirrmanns, STB's lead captain and one of the organization's foremost seal experts, said watchers are generally more than satisfied with their tours. 鈥淲onder, Joy. Everyone acts like a kid looking at seals,鈥 he said. 鈥淭hey are cute and cuddly looking. Lots of oohhs and aaahhs.鈥

Asked to speculate on the seals' reactions to their human gawkers, Pfirrmann said, 鈥溾淔or the most part they ignore us but they are always alert. We keep our movements as predictable as possible as they will notice any out of character movements. Harbor Seals are smart and live their whole lives near humans. A vessel that stops, suddenly slows or worse, points its bow at them is a threat.

鈥淎fter a few visits, they recognize our boats. Strange boats or worse kayaks or paddleboards will still spook them. Still we try to keep our time with them limited to 20 or so minutes at a time.鈥

Harbor seals range in size from 4.5 to 5.5 feet/100-175 pounds for females and 5 to 6 feet/175-275 pounds for males.

The 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act protects all seals from being hunted or harassed.聽Harbor seals were so named for their preference for protected waters, such as those humans use for harbors. 鈥淭hey're used to humans,鈥 Pfirrmann said. 鈥淭hey've figured out a good way to co-exist.鈥

Pfirrmann, 58, said that because harbor seals are in our waters only during the colder months, they have no natural predators in southeastern New England. Even in the summer, he added, they do not attract predators like the great white shark, which prefers the larger more predictable colonies of gray seals.

Harbor Seals, Pfirrman said, are 鈥渙pportunistic eaters and will catch just about anything that swims or crawls, and they follow schools of herring migrating down the coast from the Gulf of Maine.鈥

Save The Bay's two vessels,聽聽Alletta Morris and Elizabeth Morris, are both about 46 feet long. Though both are partially covered, the tour, Pfirrmann emphasized, should be regarded as an outdoor activity. The heads (bathrooms) are winterized but available for emergency use.

Because harbor seals are in our waters only during the colder months, they have no natural predators in southeastern New England.

The harbor seal watch tourists are, Pfirrmann said, generally smart about dressing properly. The most common instances of underdressing, he said, happen in early April when it may be 70 degrees in Providence, prompting a teen on a school trip to dress in shorts. That mistake is felt soon after the boat pulls out from dock. 鈥淎 Newport sea breeze,鈥 he said, 鈥渃an be a great learning experience.鈥

To reserve spots on a tour or for more information, visit聽savethebay.org聽or call 401-203-SEAL (7325).

Prices for the one-hour tour are $22 (non members), $17 (STB members, seniors, children age 3-12). For the two-hour tour, prices are $55/$50. Children younger than 3 are free on both tours.