THE SEALS WERE
OCCASIONALLY ON ALERT AFTER HEARING GUN SHOTS
FROM DISTANT HUNTERS. AFTER SHOTS CEASE, THE
SEALS RELAX UNTIL THE NEXT ROUND OF SHOTS.
RETURNED AT 11:00 am WITH THE SCHOOL GROUP (OREGON
MIDDLE SCHOOL) AND ONLY 6 WERE STILL THERE- THE
MAJORITY HAD BEEN FLUSHED FROM THE SITE
INADVERTENTLY BY A SHORE-BASED FISHER. THE 6
REMAINING INDIVIDUALS WERE FLUSHED BY THE
PASSAGE OF A US COAST GUARD VESSEL AT HIGH SPEED
RESEARCH and SEAL WALK for the
Oregon Middle School
harbor seals swimming instead of being hauled
Too many boats and too
on the shore
near the haulout on a spring-like day in December
and the seals had been obviously spooked off
the haulout site. Let's hope that this
isn't a regular occurrence this year. Looking
forward to real winter-like weather soon. PHOTOS
RESEARCH and SEAL WALK
61 harbor seals (59 hauled out and 2 in the
The seals were originally split into two groups
seperated by 240 yards, a large group of nearly 31
and a second group of 15. The larger group
continued to increase in number and within 30
minutes grew to 55, while the second group remained
Within 45 minutes of our
arrival the seals from the secondary joined the others.
79 harbor seals
hauled-out at Cupsogue just at sunrise. 1.5 hours
later 84 were
hauled out until they were scared off the sandbar by
a vessel (NY 7372 JZ).
The vessel passed slowly south of the sandbar and
some of the seals were on alert, but most were
unaffected and remained on the haul-out site. The
vessel then stopped just east of the haulout and sat
for a mnute out of gear, then revved its engine
(still out of gear) and that caused the seals to
flush from the haulout.
Within 40 seconds,
all 84 seals entered the water. The vessel then
proceeded to follow the seals towards the inlet.
The incident will be reported to NOAA Fisheries
The beautiful silence of the morning was pierced
with frequent and disturbing sounds of shotgun fire.
They sounded very close and were extremely loud. The
seals reacted by changing to vigilant behavior and
periodically bouncing in place while the guns
We saw about 50 hauled-out as we walked down the
road towards the viewing area. Once at the viewing
area, as the CRESLI Crew walked to the snow fence to
set up our equipment, while the rest of the people
waited alohng the edge og the road, we saw that the
seals had been flushed from the sand bar.
Everyone was asked to approach the snow fence in
small groups and wait patiently.
Our patience was rewarded with a sight that very few
people get to witness. We were able to watch
the haul-out process. From no seals-hauled to
to 94 seals hauled out over the course of 30
96 harbor seals seen and photographed about
at 11:25 AM.
Within 2 hours, unfortunately,
the seals had been flushed from the sandbar and only
30 remained swimming in the area. eye-witnesses
reported that many people were at the shore
across from the haulout and half of the seals
bolted. The other half were flushed by the close
approach of a fast moving Suffols County Police vessel.
on folks, let's give the seals a break. don't go down to the water's edge.
Stay behind the snow
About 30 harbor seals seen hauled out as we
Unfortunately, a private helicopter flew over the
hauled out seals as we were approaching and
scattered them. This helicopter has done so before,
each time leaving just as we approached close enough
to try and photograph or video the encounter. Over
the past years, helicopters and airplanes have
repeatedly harassed the seals and have been reported
to NOAA Fisheries Enforcement Agents.
Unfortunately, it hasn't stopped.
If you are there and see anything like this
occuring, try to video and/or photograph the
encounter and get the aircraft's ID numbers and
contact NYS DEC POLICE, OR NOAA FISHERIES , OR Dr.
and he will give you the contact informatioN FOR
Within a few minutes of
arrival, we saw them chased off the sandbar by the close approach of a vesel. Over the next 45 minutes, vessels repeatedly
cuased the seals to leave the sandbar.
Boaters, please leave the seals alone!
harbor seals hauled outonly to be chased off the
sand bar by a vessel. The vessel's occupants beached
the craft on the sand bar, anchored it and got out
and began shooting a shotgun at clay targets. CRESLI
personel notified Suffolk County, local, and NYSDEC
Police. After the shooters eventually left, the
seals returned to the sand bar. We at CRESLI hope
that those folks get nailed for marine mammal
harassment and anything else with which they can be
The temperature at 8:00 AM was somewhere around 12
degrees Fahrenheit. It was cold, but our stalwart
participants were ready for the cold.
were lucky enough to see the begining of a haul-out.
The young seals hauled out first (they are molting and
truly need to be out of the water until their molts are
finished). The early haul-out individiuals were
typically hyper-vigilant Early haul-outers often
return to the water u til enough individuals haul-out to
provide some "strength in numbers.
At the Cupsogue Beach haulout site this
morning at 8:10 (50
minutes prior to updates scheduled seal walk
meeting time), there were ~90 harbor
seals hauled out on the sand bar.
By 9:10, as we got to see the
sand bar for the first time (we were still
about 1/4 mile away from the viewing area) we
first noticed that NONE were hauled out,
As we got to the viewing area, we saw about
12 were in the water. Some swimming,
others bottling, and still others canoodling
in the between the near shore and the sand
4 Harbor seals
hauled out on the rocks and later 10 Harbor
seals in the water
Dr. Kopelman (CRESLI)
led a trip at
Cupsogue today for Ms. D'Ambrosia's marine
science and research students from William
Floyd High School. about 2 hours before the
students arrived he saw no seals hauled out
on the usual sand bar, and much to his
surprise, a group of juvenile harbor seals
were hauled out on the rocks at the base of
the haulout viewing area. In 10 years and
over 230 observation periods, this had never
been seen before . Needles to say, the seals
never hauled out on the sandbar, left the
rocks, but remained in the area when the
class was there.
There were 117 harbor seals and 3 grey seals seen about
6:30 AM on Sunday April 26, 2015 at the Cupsogue Beach
haulout site when Dr. Kopelman conducted his
photo-identification research. When we returned with our
seal walk group, 70 seals were hauled out until idiotic
low-lifes in a vessel named Silver-Bullet, NY1429-KA,
drove over to the haulout area and began fishing about
20 yards from the seals. This caused the seals to flush
from the sandbar, much to the anger of those gathered to
observe the seals from a distance. These low-life
buffoons refused to back away from the seals, when asked
to do so, and chuckled as they chased the seals away.
They were warned that they would be photographed and
that we would send the photos to federal authorities.
The photos have been sent and we hope these miscreants
get nailed by NOAA Fisheries Enforcement Agents for
marine mammal harassment.
87-95 harbor seals hauled out at Cupsogue between 7:45 -
CRESLI volunteers in the area reported to us that a duck hunting group brought their
vessel near the haul-out and flushed the seals.
Once again our seal walk participants were
only able to see about 17 seals swimming in the area. We at CRESLI would like to
get the word out to boaters near Moriches Inlet to leave the
resting seals alone
Oil spill at Cupsogue Beach
yesterday (1/31/14) near the seal haulout.
Yesterday a barge sank NE of the seal haulout area
and release about 600 gallons of diesel fuel into the
bay. A report from a CRESLI volunteer (Patty Alessi)
notified the DEC yesterday. The seals were
swimming in the oil. Dr. Kopelman of
CRESLI was there on 2/1/2014, as were the NYS DECPolice, Coast Guard and others. The
shore, marshes, rocks were oil coated. There were about
20 harbor seals swimming in the area (see photos) and
none are hauled out.
According to NYS DEC police, the USCG will be
setting up booms to try and capture what they can.
seals photographed today are some of the core group
utilizing this site got many years. Let's hope that the
oil gets removed or dissipates soon and that the damage
is limited and the seals aren't severely impacted
just began to haul out in small numbers. colleagues who
remained on site (Merry Camhi and Keith Ellenbogen)
observed 10 haul out only to be harassed by an airplane
circling above them repeatedly, and were finally flushed
from the haul-out just before we arrived again. We have
photographed the tail #'s on this aircraft and will be
reporting it as well to NOAA Fisheries agents.
My guess us that it's the same pilot as he helicopter
doing the same thing earlier.
returned after 12:45 PM
observed 10-12 harbor seals swimming
About 12 harbor seals swimming near the haul-out site at
Cupsogue around 9:00 AM, the water level was extremely high
nearly 2 hours before dead low tide. At 11:00 AM about 20
seals were present, by 11:25 as we were leaving, 22
hauled out on the barely accessible sand bar and 3 were
during an early research trip, at 10:30 there were 12 harbor
seals swimming and none hauled-out; at 11:04, 40
hauled out. Returned at 12:40 with the seal
walk group, but none were hauled out; just about 18 swimming
Today, a calmer and warmer day at
Cupsogue Beach brought out lots of folks in addition to
those with CRESLI to view the seals. Unfortunately, the
other people had inadvertently disturbed the seals, as did
aircraft. At 8:30, about 20 seals were swimming and
At 11:30, once
again about 20 were swimming. By 12:05 PM 11 had hauled-out
and another 11 were in the water.
Research and seal
April 20, 2013
42 harbor seals
About 35 harbor seals at 7:50 AM (30 hauled-out; 5
in water) during research observation.
9:15 with the seal walk group, there were 42 harbor seals
At 7:49, there were 45 harbor seals hauled-out at
Cupsogue during the early research trip. 10 minutes later,
and all had been flushed from the sandbar.
the group of CRESLI seal walk participants caught a distant
glimpse of 30 seals hauled-out, and we watched them all
return to the water. Eventually, at the observation site,
about 15 seals were observed hauling-out
Research and seal
April 27, 2013
6 harbor seals and 80
At the request of the wonderful
the North Fork Audubon Society,
CRESLI's president, Dr. Artie Kopelman, was the naturalist
for a seal cruise from Greenport, NY on April 27,
2013, on the Peconic Star Express. We traveled in
the area of Plum Gut, Great and Little Gull Islands, "The
Ruins", and Gardiners Island before heading back.
Overall we saw about 80 grey seals and 6 harbor seals. It
was a spectacular trip.
114 harbor seals and 1 grey seal hauled out Photos
March 4, 2012
133 harbor seals and 1 grey seal hauled out Photos
March 09, 2012
About 70 harbor seals were hauled
out at Cupsogue this morning at 11:25, but high levels of
aircraft activity, caused them to flush repeatedly.
Eventually all left but the core group of 6 individuals. Photos
Seal walk for the Hampton Bays Middle School
March 10, 2012
35 harbor seals were hauled out at 11:50 AM.
They were disturbed and flushed from the site later; only 12
remained swimming in the area by the time we returned at 1:40 Photos
Research and seal walk
March 17, 2012
105 seals hauled out between 7:30 and 7:50 AM.
120 harbor seals
hauled out later (around 9:40) but were flushed from the site by
aicarft noise, and repeatdly buzzed by a private
Research and seal walk
March 18, 2012
122 seals hauled out between
8:30 and 8:35 AM.
136 harbor seals
were seen hauled out later (around 10:40) and remained Photos
Research and seal walk
March 24, 2012
6 harbor seals swimming between
12:00 and 12:30 PM.
2 harbor seals
were seen briefly later (around 2:20 PM) Photos
So many people came on their
own, went right down to the shore. The seals, which had been
flushed from the sandbar earlier, were constantly too disturbed to
haul-out. I wish that the public would give the seals the benefit of
the doubt and stay up on the bluff, away from the beach,
and keep a low profile when observing/photographing seals
at Cupsogue. Excessive disturbance can
lead to problems for the seals and potential abandonment of the
* on 4/04/09, extreme
winds (30+ knots, gusting to 45 knots) forced the trip to be
cancelled on-site. Seal observations and
photographs were by CRESLI's Dr. A. H. Kopelman later that
** on 4/05/09, seals were flushed
from the haulout site shortly after our arrival and were kept off the
haulout site by the presence of a vessel constantly travelling back and
forth through the groups of seals in the water. The vessel
operator then wrongly decided to bring the vessel onto the sandbar just
adjacent to the haulout site. His actions could be in violation of
the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the vessels number will be
submitted to the appropriate authorities.
seals (52 harbor seals; 25 grey
seals, and 1 harp seal): 73 at the haulout site (53 on the rocks [35
harbor seals; 17 grey seals; and 1 juvenile harp]; 20 in the water (17 harbor and 3
grey); 5 in the water east of the haulout site (3
harbor and 2 grey)
19 Harbor seals (13 hauled out; 6 in the water)
and 1 grey seal (in the water).
March 24, 2002
20 seals (19 harbor seals and 1 grey seal).
April 06, 2002
2 harbor seals (in the water near the lighthouse).
High NNW winds kept seals off the rocks of the
haul-out area; we searched the area on the leeward side and around
the lighthouse instead.
April 21, 2002
5 harbor seals (swimming near the haul out zone)
May 4, 2002
For further information about Long Island's seals,
PLEASE! PLEASE! All of us involved in monitoring the seals at
Montauk would prefer that you view the seals in a supervised naturalist
led walk. If too many people continue to disturb the haul out
zone, the seals may abandon it in the future.
REMEMBER, DO NOT COME WITHIN 70 YARDS OF THE HAUL OUT ZONE WHEN
SEALS ARE HAULED OUT. Do not approach the seals from
the beach side, use the back trail instead. If you don't know
about the trail, don't go - wait and join a supervised trip led by
CRESLI, or led by the park staff (for Montauk State Park led trips