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Marine Sightings

Marine Strandings 
Those of us lucky enough to live along the coast might also catch a glimpse of the rich marine life that calls Long Island Sound home. Rarely, we might encounter one of these magnificent animals lying on the beach. What should you do? Read on…

Seal Awareness…
Four different seals travel through the waters of Long Island Sound, especially during the months of December through May. They are the gray seal, harbor seal, harp seal and hooded seal.

The gray seal is 7-8 feet long, weighs up to 800 pounds, has a long, horse-like face and can have a color range of nearly white to dark brown or even black with a blotchy patterning.

The harbor seal is 5-6 feet long, weighs up to 220 pounds, has a short muzzle and is light gray, tan or brown with dark spots on its back.

The harp seal would usually only be encountered as a young animal, about 3 feet long and weighs up to 75 pounds. It has a short muzzle, is gray to dark tan with dark brown spots and claws on its front flippers.

The hooded seal would also likely to be encountered as a juvenile at about 3 feet long, up to 90 pounds, with a steel-blue colored pelt with light underbelly, no spots and claws on its front flippers.

Seals on a beach have usually only hauled out to rest. They are fascinating animals and often quite cute, especially the young ones, but they are still very much wild animals and may bite if you walk over to get a better look. Enjoy watching them from a distance and advise others to do the same. Whenever possible, keep pets away too.

If you suspect the animal has a health problem, the experts to call are found at Mystic Marine Aquarium, part of the Northeast Region Stranding Network at 860-572-5955 x 107. They will respond to calls for sick, injured or dead marine animals along the coast of Connecticut and Rhode Island. The Aquarium also monitors local seal populations. If you would like to report your sighting, you may leave a message at the number given above.

Sea Turtle Awareness…
During the late summer, a wonderful undersea migration occurs that most of us are never even aware of. Sea turtles are moving through the waters off the coast of New England, usually between August and September, and power-boaters should take particular care as these air-breathing animals often surface and can be injured and even killed by encounters with propellers. Sea turtles can also get tangled in fishing nets and lobster pot lines. One of the biggest causes of sea turtle deaths is the accidental swallowing of floating plastic bags that turtles mistake for jelly fish, a favorite food source. So please dispose of your trash properly and use care with your pleasure boats.

If you notice a sick, injured or dead sea turtle you can report it to Mystic Marine Aquarium, at the same number as above, 860-572-5955 x 107.

For identification purposes, there are four species of sea turtles you are most likely to encounter.

The green sea turtle can weigh up to 500 pounds and they vary in color from light tan to black with a yellow-white underside of their smooth shell.

The Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle can weigh up to 100 pounds and is light olive green in color. It is one of the most endangered sea turtles.

Leatherback sea turtles can weigh up to 1300 pounds, with a ridged shell that has a rubber-like texture and is black with white spots.

The loggerhead sea turtle weighs up to 450 pounds, has a square-shaped head and is reddish brown in color.

Living by or visiting the coast of Connecticut is a wonderful experience; it’s a beautiful habitat, full of amazing wildlife. Treat it wisely so we can enjoy it for generations to come!