The seals at Rome Point are comfortable
and happy with the haul-out site
because it is far enough from shore to allow them to feel safe, even in
the presence of people on land. The haul-out rocks are over three hundred yards from shore; at that distance, the seals are not
readily identifiable to the human eye.
is not possible to stress enough the importance of bringing a spotting
scope or binoculars with you on a trip to see the seals
Without binoculars or a scope, you are sure to be disappointed that the
seals are so far away.
Guide to Sport
The best way to observe the seals is to
use a spotting scope or
low-magnification astronomical telescope. I
use a 20x to 60x variable magnification spotting scope; using a scope transforms seal-watching into a
close-up photographs on this site were
all taken from Rome Point through my scope with a digital camera, so
the pictures you see here are the typical views that one sees
when observing seals through a scope. The view through the
actually more clear and well focused than the photographs; with a
scope, the individual personalities and subtle behaviors of the seals
are brought to life in a most compelling and captivating way.
If at all possible, buy a
a scope, or invite a friend who
has a scope to come with you on your seal watching adventure. A
spotting scope, or
even a cheap astronomical
much better than binoculars for seal watching at Rome
Point. I have found that children have an easier
dealing with a scope on a tripod than they do with more cumbersome
there is anyone at Rome Point who is using a scope, I recommend
politely asking if you can take a look; most wildlife watchers will be glad to share.
views of the seals, so I always bring my 10x magnification binoculars
along on my seal hikes. For
seal watching at Rome
Point, 10x50 or 10x42 binoculars would be the best choice.
8x magnification or compact binoculars do
not have sufficient magnification or brightness for good seal viewing
at this distance, although any binoculars are better than the un-aided
eye. Binoculars are especially good for observing seals that
are swimming or porpoising; look for white splashes in the water as a
for locating active, swimming seals.
a zoom lens is
also better than nothing
but you will not get close-up
shots without a scope or a very long camera lens. A cloudy day
or evening light is preferred for high-quality photography, as the
caused by bright sunlight reflecting off the water will be greatly reduced. At Rome Point,
morning light on a sunny day will present challenges to photographers
due to glare and back lighting.
Watching Tips and Etiquette
- Check out the signpost
and the plaque at the trailhead for a map and information about the
John H. Chafee Nature Preserve.
in the parking area or especially if parked along busy Route 1A, be
sure to keep small children and pets under close control while you prepare for your hike.
ticks are present in the preserve and the threat of contracting a
tick-borne illness should not be taken lightly. If you choose to
explore the woodland trails, you are advised to stay on the trail and to take adequate tick protection precautions.
conditions can sometimes be poor due to ice, snow, or mud; ice is often
a problem after snow has gone through a thaw/freeze cycle. A
walking staff or ski poles can be very helpful when the trail ices up.
If the trail is in bad shape, you may wish to consider
returning another day rather than risking an injury from a fall on
- To avoid disturbing the
seals, please approach Rome Point calmly and quietly.
Harbor seals are sensitive to human activity; this seems to be
especially true when large numbers of seals are hauled-out on the rocks.
- Dogs are welcome at Rome
Point, bring your dog along for a healthy exercise walk.
Please pick up after your dog.
keep dogs under control at all times. Bear in mind as you approach Rome
Point that your dog may encounter other dogs, small children, bicycles,
or horses and be prepared to restrain your pet accordingly.
- Please do not play fetch
your dog on the beach at Rome Point if seals are present; move
south down the beach or around the back to Bissel Cove to play with
- The seals are federally
protected marine mammals. Willfully disturbing or harassing
seals is a violation of federal law.
a location on the shore that is out of the wind for comfortable seal
viewing; sometimes moving only a few yards can make the time spent
watching seals much more enjoyable.
mind your cell-phone manners if you are within close proximity to other
groups of seal watchers.
Maintain close supervision over young children
who are using sport optics on a sunny day; even a quick glimpse of the sun through binoculars may cause a serious eye injury.
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