Volunteers Are Needed to Help Count Seals

Thu, 03/18/2021 - 5:45pm

On Block Island in February we celebrate Groundhog Day by counting people, in March we celebrate the arrival of spring by counting seals.

Since 1994, Save The Bay volunteers have observed and recorded the presence and species of seals at haulout sites around Narragansett Bay throughout the winter “seal season.” During the “seal season” of 2018/19 Block Island volunteers have collected seal occurrence data from the island to be appended to Save The Bay’s long-standing effort. The goal is simple: we all know we have a lot of seals around the island in the winter, the question is how many, which species, and what are the year-to-year fluctuations?

In addition to the twice-monthly winter monitoring of seals in key haul-out sites in Narraganset Bay and around Block Island, there is a plan - once per season in March - to observe “peak seal” in the entire area (not just the few identified sites). This effort will be taking place during the week of March 22 to 26.

On Block Island we will be trying to cover as much of the island’s shoreline as possible on Tuesday, March 23, between 12 and 2 p.m. Volunteers are needed to “adopt” a site and count seals that are hauled-out or in the water. This is a onetime commitment, that will take no longer than the time that it takes to walk “your” patch of shoreline. Your help and assistance will be part of one of many community science projects here on the island. If you are interested in helping, or to learn more, please contact Kim Gaffett at (401) 595-7055 or email at Kim.gaffett@tnc.org to determine which island shoreline you would be available and willing to survey for the presence of seals. Photo by Kim Gaffett.