Environment
2:10 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

It’s The Season For Seal Pupping Along Coastal New England

It’s that time of year when gray and harbor seals come ashore to give birth, but most of the birthing will happen north of us.

A common harbor seal.
A common harbor seal.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

For harbor seals, Rhode Island is kind of their Florida. They arrive when the weather gets cold and leave by baseball season. URI emeritus research scientist Robert Kenny said harbor seals then go north to give birth, and there’s a good reason why that won’t happen on Rhode Island’s shores.

“It’s sort of centered around Memorial Day, and by that time the water’s getting warm and we have sharks here,” said Kenny. “So I think shark predation in the warmer part of the year is the thing that has kept seals from really establishing themselves as a breeding population south of Cape Cod.”

Kenny said this is the time of year when Rhode Island gets an influx of hungry and bewildered young gray seals who drift down while learning to fish.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is urging people and their pets to stay at least 150 feet from seals as they pup.

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