Harp Seal – Long Island (New York)

On Sunday I headed out to Long Island for a day with Andrew Block to look for unusual seals and Snowy Owls.

We saw a Harp Seal hauled out on a sand island a few hundred yards east of the Ponquogue Bridge (almost exactly the same spot that Andrew had seen one back in January 2009).

The animal was on its own on the beach of a small island out in Shinnecock Bay, and the island had a basic blind (presumably a hunting blind?) set up on the northern end. It was far too far away for pictures and even through a scope it was difficult to get a clear look because of the (freezing) wind. But Andrew and I estimated it was 5 or 6ft long, and had its head, but not its tail, raised. It was tan – a slightly grey tan and a little paler than the sand – and we couldn’t see any significant spotting on it.

I’d love to know if anyone else sees this animal (or any other Harp or Hooded Seals off of the eastern seaboard for that matter).

There are a growing number of records of Harp Seals (usually juveniles) each year on Long Island between January and May. Hooded Seals are also increasingly finding their way to these waters too, as well as occasional Ringed Seals.

Oh, and the Snowy Owl at Jones Beach was almost as good as the Seal!

Jon
Snowy Owl

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