Posted tagged ‘gray seal pup’

I Find a Gray Seal Pup

April 12, 2011

Two weeks ago, Esau the dog and I were walking down the road to beautiful Flying Point Beach in Watermill on the south fork of Long Island.

Long Island

On the way, we encounter a flock of mostly headless mute swans on little Mecox Bay.

Mute and headless swans

The beach is empty.  Empty of humans, that is.

Shorebirds dart about on toothpick legs

while herring, black-backed and other gulls swoop overhead.Young gull on the prowl

As we walk, I scan the ocean for wildlife.  I always look for seals – or floating bowling balls, which is what seal heads resemble when they peek out of the water.  I used to see seals in Casco Bay when I lived in Portland, Maine and in the waters of Long Nook Beach on Cape Cod.  But in decades of walks on Flying Point Beach, I have never spotted a seal, although I know they are out there.

Three gorgeous, punky-crested red-breasted mergansers swim by.

Through binoculars, these boys are beautiful.

Further down the beach, I spy an unusual lump.

Beach lump: what is it?

We walk lumpward, until the lump reveals itself to be … a seal pup.

Is it all right?

It is a few feet long, and remarkably fat.

I  scan the water in hopes of seeing a mother seal bobbing just offshore. Nothing. Has the little guy been abandoned? Is it injured or ill?  Not wanting to frighten the seal, I keep my distance, and examine the pup through binoculars.  The little seal seems to sleep.

Resting

Then it perks up and looks around.

'sup?

It rolls over onto its back and wriggles around, as if to scratch an itch.

Sometimes it gazes right at Esau and me.Oh. Hello.

It rubs its nose with a flipper and sometimes seems to be playing peek-a-boo, covering its face with a flipper. I worry about its flippers.  Are they moving properly? I can’t tell.

I use my cell phone to call a rescue hotline for marine mammals. The hotline turns out to be operated by the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Mammals. A woman from the answering service tells me that several people have already called to report the Flying Point seal pup. I ask when a biologist will arrive to assess its health. She has no idea."But it may be injured or abandoned," I say. "Surely someone will come soon." The woman explains that the foundation handles all of Long Island from Queens to Montauk. With only one van. The van has gone to Coney Island to check out a seal, and has several other stops to make. There's no telling when or if anyone will come to Watermill.I call the Southampton police station to see if they can help. The policeman says that no one there has the training to evaluate a seal (fair enough), and the hotline is the best resource.So I wait and watch, accompanied by my patient dog. I wonder at the strange tug of kinship with a fellow creature, alone and possibly in distress. I don't know how to interpret the movements of the seal. What is it saying when it gazes at us or when it covers its eyes with a flipper, the way my old dog Lucy used to do with her paw?The sun goes down, and my fingers freeze. A friend brings gloves to the beach, then stays to wonder at the little lump, apparently alone in an expanse of sea, sand and sky. No one comes.After a while, we walk away.

In the morning, I return to find … nothing. The seal is gone, and the ocean has claimed the spot where the little animal rested.

Click here for a follow-up on the seals of NYC and Long Island, and click here to read about the seal-people known as silkies .


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,243 other followers

%d bloggers like this: