Courtesy of Miramar Yacht Club

We began getting e-mails Wednesday night about a great big seal lazily basking in the sun on the docks of the Miramar Yacht Club. The seal, about five feet long, had been there all day, and didn’t seem the slightest bit perturbed by the presence of papparazi-like club members. The next morning, the seal was still there, but, unfortunately, he returned to the waters and made his way out to sea just minutes before Sheepshead Bites arrived with cameras.

Perhaps he worried that if he lingered too long on the Miramar docks, he’d be asked to pay membership dues.

Anthony, a long time clubmember, said he’d never seen a seal in the waters of Sheepshead Bay. But apparently boaters were reporting back to the club that a pod of the pinnipeds have been playing around the mouth of the bay for the past two days.

Though it’s the first time in recent history seals have been spotted anywhere near Sheepshead Bay, the waters of Jamaica Bay have seen a striking return of harbor seals in the past five years. Kayakers and recreational boaters began reporting their presence around the Verrazano Bridge back in 2006.

Investigators from Kingsborough Community College’s Maritime Studies program and the New York Aquarium launched the first annual harbor seal survey following those reports.

That year, they counted 10. Over the next years, they spotted nine, then eight. In 2009, though, the numbers shot up to 20, with the colonies basking on the rocks of Swinburne and Hoffman Islands near the bridge.

The numbers are on the rise thanks to cleaner water and the return of fish populations, according to New York Aquarium curator Paul Sieswerda.

Seals were a mainstay of New York Harbor over 100 years ago. But fishermen back in the day got tired of competing for the same fish, and harbor seals were soon hunted for reward.

With laws protecting the seals, that’s unlikely to happen again. We’re hoping the seals become a more common sight in our waters, and that next time, they’re not so dodgy of Sheepshead Bites’ cameras.

Courtesy of Miramar Yacht Club

Courtesy of Miramar Yacht Club

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  • Anonymous

    Wow that’s amazing. I hope my kids can see them this summer

    • Jal5503

      Saw some about 50 yrs ago in the bay….was soooo coool

  • Andy

    that’s so cool!

  • Barkingspider7

    I love seals. I have lived in Sheepshead all of my life and I have never seen a seal here, except for when I went to the aquarium. Hope that he likes it well enough to stay here!

    • Animo916

      My friend owns a boat on the west coast. As much as we may like seals, they can be mischievous and cause property damage to boats and marinas alike.

  • Backagain

    I heard the Democrats signed them up as voters…

  • Jlynne

    That is awesome!!!!!!!!

  • Tinafg

    Oh how awesome!!!!!!!!

  • soapbox

    The seals are awesome and so peaceful! I would like to take this opportunity to remind you all that the Canadian seal hunts are going on NOW. February 24th a couple of thousand were clubbed to death on Hay Island. The Canadian Gov’t is carrying on as usual DESPITE the EU ban on seal imports actually, the canadian gov’t is fighting the ban. last year there were 66,000 of these beautiful, peaceful animals were murdered. babies are clubbed to death while their mothers scream. many are skinned alive, while still conscious. these seals are not posing a threat to the fishing industry and the $ the fishermen make from this activity in their off season only accounts for less than 10% of their yearly earnings. the only reason they really do it is because they refuse to be told what to do by the rest of the world, and to give them something to do in the off season. jeez, get a hobby! it is really laughable that they even refer to it as a hunt, when the animals are just laying there, sunning themselves with their babies when the “hunters” decend on them. There is plenty of video available if you have the stomach for it, but either way, I urge EVERYONE who thinks that this is a travesty to DO SOMETHING. Skip the video and find out how you can let the Canadian Gov’t know you will support the boycott on all Canadian products and then DO IT. Ask in restaurants where the seafood comes from and then don’t order it if it’s Canadian. Write to the Canadian tourism and tell them you are not going to visit until they end the hunts. $$$$$ is the only thing they understand, it is the only way to push them into righting this great wrong.

    • soapbox

      Thanks for the ‘like’. I hate to preach, (ok, I don’t really HATE it) but there are alot of people who think this ended years ago, and don’t realize the lengths that the Canadians go to to prevent filming by animal rights/environmental groups. I wish the American media paid it more attention.

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