Rome Point Seals

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 Seal Observation Journal

Saturday, April 4, 2020   We usually enjoy very good seal observation this time of the year, with numerous seals on the rocks and plenty of company on the beach to share in the fun. However, this season is different, and now the John H. Chafee Nature Preserve is closed, so we will not be visiting Rome Point while the closure is in effect. The past couple of weeks we have noted overflowing parking lots at all of the well known local hiking spots, as the public at large seeks solace in nature in a time of anxiety and uncertainty. It is of interest to us how so many people have intuitively flocked to the forests and beaches in pursuit of exercise, entertainment, and peace of mind, and we hope that a more widespread appreciation of the natural world will continue to flourish in our society long after the Coronavirus situation has settled down. We were blessed to have learned about the calming, restorative, and healing power of mindful, relaxing time spent in nature long ago, and it is our hope that the discovery of this truth will be a gift that many people will treasure in the face of whatever the days to come may bring. Good Luck... and Good Health... to All!

We posted a short new video in the video links below, this video features an episode of some of the most persistently aggressive seal behavior we have ever observed.

We will not be commenting here on daily seal watching prospects as related to weather and tide for a while, but there should be lots of seals around on good days through April. Interestingly, seals have to deal with periodic virus outbreaks too. The last big marine mammal flu epidemic in the Western Atlantic was in 2011 when the avian flu (from ducks) strain H3N8 was responsible for the known deaths of over 160 juvenile harbor seals in New England. Ever since that event, we have seen fewer young seals at Rome Point than we observed prior to the virus
 outbreak, but we cannot say whether these two facts are related in any way.

An analysis of our observations for last season (Fall 2018 through Spring 2019) revealed that on days when the weather was nice (wind < 10 mph, and no precipitation) the seals were flushed by human activity during an astounding 84% of our observations. We are certain that this is a level of seal disturbance that we have not experienced here before, especially during the winter months. We want to avoid involving law enforcement to the greatest extent possible, we do not want to impede fishing or aquaculture in the area unless absolutely necessary, and we do not want to take action that would unduly publicize Rome Point to avoid overcrowding on weekends. However, these limiting factors may be constraining our ability to implement an effective plan, and we are reconsidering what other approaches might be more effective. 
Here is a link to video showing an incredible aggregation of Grey seals on Cape Cod at Monomoy. Grey Seals on the Beach at Cape Cod

Some of our seal watching friends have shown an interest in sharks; this website is dedicated to tracking sharks that have been tagged with GPS satellite transponders. Ocearch Shark Tracker  

We have posted some short seal videos to
Youtube for your seal watching amusement.  Seal Pup Follies was recorded in Maine in June 2012 and Linebelly Rising is a short clip showing the Rome Point kingpin climbing to the top of his favorite pointy rock. 
Video Links:
Tail Biting Jumps March 2020
Seal Action March 2013
Linebelly Rising   
Big Seal Day 2011 
Seal Pup Follies  
Rome Point Seals 2011 

    Welcome to the Internet home of the Rome Point harbor seal colony in Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay.  This web site is the place to learn where, when, and how to observe harbor seals from the shore of the John H.Chafee Nature Preserve at Rome Point, located in North Kingstown, RI.  Rome Point is the best place in southern New England to observe large numbers of wintering harbor seals from shore. Since 1999, I have had the pleasure of enjoying more than 900 seal walks and sharing close-up views of the seals through my spotting scope with at least 10,000 friends, neighbors, and seal seekers from all over the world.  Rome Point is one of Rhode Island's most spectacular natural treasures, and on a good day the seal watching experience using appropriate sport optics rivals any wildlife sightings you are likely to observe in most US National Parks!  

   This web site is a guide to having a successful and fun seal watching hike at Rome Point.  The information presented here will enable you to locate and responsibly observe the seals.  This site is published as a public service by amateur naturalists on a volunteer basis.  Thanks for visiting!