Saturday, March 13, 2010

Norwalks Harbor Seals

I think the most common question I'm asked in the winter is "are there any seals out there?"

The conversation to follow will usually be like this...

A. Sure, there are plenty of seals out there.

Q. Did you see any today?

A. No.

Q. Why not? You said there were seals out there.

A. Well lets see, I was out at high tide, most seals in this area don't haul out of the water until low tide, when many rock outcroppings and reefs become exposed, my guess is that they feed around the higher tides, but now that I think about it, I did see a seal head pop up today around a large flock of Long-tail.

Q. What kind of a seal is a Long-tail, I never heard of them?

A. Well their not a seal species, they're ducks.

Q. Oh, that explains the "flock" thing, I didn't think seals hung out in flocks?

I have actually had this conversation, not everybody knows their duck species, and that's OK it's always fun explaining that Long-tail are birds, and of course that I was out birding the Islands today.

A few quick facts on Harbor Seals. Females can live up to 35 years and the guys up to 25.

They can easily submerge for over ten minutes, and dive over 1000 feet, but on average they only dive for two to three minutes and in less than seventy feet of water.

Males can reach lengths of over six feet and weigh just over three hundred pounds, the ladies are considerably smaller. They eat about five percent of their body weight daily, with most of that being fish and squid. There is no evidence of them eating lobster, though they will raid lobster traps for the lobster bait inside.

Here are a few recent photos from around the islands, again I'm using a long lens and cropping the pictures big time, so as not to disturb them.

Check out how plump this seal is, this one is a lady seal,
and she is very pregnant, her ten month gestation period is about to end.
She won't give birth to her 18-24 lb pup in this area, but further east of us, perhaps Maine and beyond.

When hauled out, seals like their space, notice the separation between these two while sunning themselves on a local rock. This space is too tight for them to share it with the seal in the water.

Disagreements about whose space it is, are common at favorite haul out locations.

1 comment:

  1. I see seals sleeping in our cove, floating with their head up and "feet" down, just as relaxed as can be.