Sunday, July 12, 2009

Cape Cod seals return

The seals are back, at low tide on a sand bar about 1/2 mile northwest of Head of the Meadow Beach.

2 comments:

Paul Levy said...

With thanks to Robin Ellis, I now learn that this is called "hauling out." See, e.g., this article: http://www.palomar.edu/oceanography/harbor_seals/facts.htm#HAULING-OUT%20TRENDS

Paul Levy said...

Here's the quote from that article:

Although they assemble in groups of up to several hundred, they do not form breeding colonies.

There are currently more than 300,000 harbor seals along the Pacific Coast, which haul out regularly.

Factors influencing haul-out behavior include season, time of day, tide, wave height or intensity, wind chill, and disturbance. Good visibility and quick access to deep water seem important features of a haul-out location.

Harbor seals often haul out onto land, during the times when human disturbance is the least. Spending much of their time on land, they can be observed on river banks, beaches, offshore reefs, rocky points and on manmade artifacts such as buoys and docks.

They rarely move from one location, once hauled-out, however, they remain alert and and will scan the area frequently. They often choose to rest where the tide is changing and let the water wash over them allowing themselves quick access to the water in case of a threat.

Harbor seals hauled-out often assume a characteristic banana shaped profile.

Unlike elephant seals, harbor seals generally do not touch each other when hauled out. If other individuals come too close, they respond with growling, snorting, aggressive flipper-waving, head-butting, scratching, or biting.

Fighting is rare, except between competing males during the mating season.