12 April 2010

SEAL SPOTTING

12 April 2010

Those of us who live in New York and the suburbs don’t pay too much attention to the natural systems that surround the metro area, and I’m no exception. My friend Chris, the naturalist, has been going out on Long Island Sound for the last year or so, documenting the wildlife there, and has extended me an open invitation to join him. Last weekend I was between projects, and had all of my cameras with me, and the tides were right, so we made a plan.

Easter morning was beautiful and unseasonably warm; a perfect day for a boat ride. Leaving Stamford, we encountered a pair of osprey nesting on the harbor light, with the male rather ineptly gathering driftwood to make a nest. It’s such a pleasure to be with an expert that can explain what we see, and Chris is the best. Out of the harbor we ran in to a wall of fog so thick that it felt like being in another world. The waters there are rocky, which would make navigation impossible but for an amazing GPS that allows one to follow previous paths.

After a bit, Chris stopped the boat and announced that we had arrived. “They are right over there,” he said. Of course our senses could discern nothing but fog and the lapping of water on the boat. Slowly we drifted, and shapes began to emerge, and a glint of sunlight on marine skin defined a pair of harbor seals. They watched us with mild suspicion as we rocked and snapped away. The Marine Mammal Protection Act limits proximity, but to see these beautiful animals (on Easter Sunday) with a background of New York and the wealthy suburbs somehow gave a sense of hope of the possibility of coexistence between “civilization” and the natural world.