By Mike Busch 2-8-2020
When Jim Botta sent me this week’s photos I wasn’t expecting much considering the dreary stretch of weather we had this week. I guess the sun must have come out a little but I don’t remember seeing much. Regardless, the Long Island Wildlife Photography group still had an excellent week as usual. Notable finds this week include Sika Deer, Thick-Billed Mure, Razorbill, and a Greater White-Fronted Goose.
I have gotten a few disturbing reports of a paddleboarder with his dog getting way too close to the seals that haul out near Cupsogue Beach, causing the entire colony to abandon their resting area on the bar on several recent occasions. I am sure it isn’t anyone in the group but figured it would be a good time to put out a reminder on the best way to observe seals. Artie Kopelman of CRESLI sent me over some guidelines he shares on his website and with his seal walk patrons:
Seals are protected by the MMPA (Marine Mammal Protection Act) against being killed or harassed without a permit. The MMPA defines harassment as anything that caused an abrupt change in behavior of a marine mammal. Harassment can cause significant stress to seals and should be avoided at all times. Many of the harbor seals on Long Island are pregnant and like others, resting is important and should not be disturbed.
- As in photographing other wildlife, folks, please “tread-lightly” around seals. Never feed them, never get in the water with them, and try to avoid disturbing them. If you are at or near a haulout site, please be careful, stay low or behind fences, stay hidden, and move slowly. If there are many seals hauled-out, they will most likely be more at ease, but when just a few are hauled-out, they are easily flushed from the haul-out site.
- If you see that seals are all of a sudden looking right at you, or when one or two leave the haul-out to check you out, it’s your signal to hide or leave the site until they settle down.
- If the seals are flushed from a haul-out, PLEASE leave the area and allow them to recover.
- If you see a vessel or aircraft harassing the seals, please take photographs or videos and contact NYS DEC Police, or NOAA Fisheries, or Dr. Artie Kopelman (firstname.lastname@example.org) and he will let you know whom to contact.
Let’s enjoy our marine mammal companions and let’s make sure that they can exist without problems.
Artie also explained to me that kayaks and paddleboards travel at the same speed as their natural predators and cause more stress than a typical motorboat, something that I never considered. Artie has had a great season so far, counting 157 Seals last weekend. If you would like to join him, click here for the schedule for the rest of the season.
This week’s cover shot goes to Vicki Jauron, who brought her talents back to Long Island for a visit last week and proved she hasn’t lost her touch after moving away!
If you have a few extra minutes try to check out all 8 pages of photos along with three videos from Natalie Ann on the last page!