Narragansett Bay Seal Count Tallies 423 Animals

Harbor seals. Photo Tom Richardson

On March 27, Save The Bay’s 9th annual Bay-Wide Seal Count tallied 423 harbor seals at 22 haul-out spots around Narragansett Bay. The harbor seal population in Narragansett Bay has been on the rise and now seems stable, according to a Save The Bay press release.

“This survey is a valuable resource in estimating a minimum Narragansett Bay harbor seal population,” said Save The Bay’s Volunteer Manager, July Lewis. “By monitoring every year, taking into account the weather conditions, we can be alert to any sudden or significant change in the population of our state marine mammal.”

Weather at this year’s count was clear with temperatures of 39-50 degrees and winds that varied from 3-16 knots.

“Variable viewing conditions account for most of the variability in our numbers from year to year—in particular, wind speeds,” said Lewis. “Years with very low winds have been our blockbuster years because seals prefer to haul out in those conditions. This year had more typical winds, so the total of 423, which is average for the history of our count, is exactly what we’d expect for a stable seal population.”

Volunteers counted 69 seals at Rome Point, a “high-count” spot. Other popular haul-out sites include Sakonnet Point, Citing Rock, Brenton Point, Coddington Cove, Halfway Rock and Rocky Point, where 10 seals were spotted.

In addition to its Bay-Wide Seal Count, Save The Bay has maintained an ongoing volunteer seal-monitoring program for 24 years. The second Seal Monitoring Report, released in January, synthesizes decades of data to illustrate the migration patterns and population numbers of seals in Narragansett Bay.
Save The Bay offers narrated seal cruises and nature tours that give community members the opportunity to observe these mammals in their natural habitat. Daily seal cruises depart from Newport now through April 22. For information about Save The Bay Seal Tours, visit www.savebay.org/seals.