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AHH 24-Hr. News

Mater Dei Prep Students Present SeraphFest 2015
Thursday, 05 March 2015
Middletown- On Friday, March 13th  from 4:00p.m.- 11:00p.m., Mater Dei Prep’s Memorial Hall will be transformed into a festival grounds.  SeraphFest 2015 will host dozens of musicians, poets and creative arts vendors.  There will... Read More...
Baykeeper Responds to NJ Attorney General Statement on ExxonMobile Settlement
Thursday, 05 March 2015
Statement by Debbie Mans, Executive Director & Baykeeper, NY/NJ Baykeeper on NJ Attorney General Statement on ExxonMobil Settlement March 5, 2015   It' s highly unusual for a Governor's aide to take over negotiations like these at any point... Read More...
Test of Election Equipment Was Error Free
Thursday, 05 March 2015
County Clerk tests countywide reporting   FREEHOLD, NJ – Monmouth County Clerk M. Claire French announced today that a test of the county’s election equipment on Monday was a success. The trial run involved all MonmouthCounty municipal... Read More...
Open House at Henry Hudson Regional School: Get a Private School Education for your Student in a Public School Setting
Thursday, 05 March 2015
Tuesday, March 10, 2015, HHRS Cafetorium with School Tour after presentation 6:30 pm: In-District Elementary School families; especially 6th grade parents/students 7:30 pm: High School parents/students currently in 8th grade or students... Read More...
AAA Issues Winter Driving Alert
Thursday, 05 March 2015
HAMILTON, NJ, March 5, 2015 – Snow is blanketing the region making driving hazardous. Motorists should stay home and off the treacherous roadways during a heavy snowstorm, but if you do have to drive – prepare, prepare, prepare.  Make sure... Read More...

Columns

IMAGE Winter Deja Vu
by Anne Mikolay
Thursday, 05 March 2015
As winter storm Thor pummels the Mid-west and the Northeast with snow and ice, Governor Christie once again declares a state of emergency, schools... Read More...
IMAGE Winter of Discontent
by Woody Zimmerman
Wednesday, 04 March 2015
Just four months ago, angry and energized voters swarmed to the polls to give Republicans control of the Senate and increase their House of... Read More...
IMAGE Bay Birds Attempt to Avoid Bay Ice
by Joe Reynolds
Monday, 02 March 2015
Brrrrrrrr. No doubt this was a cold winter season. Just how cold? February officially made it into the record books as the coldest February in... Read More...
IMAGE Bullers Went from Journalist to Advocate
by Daniel J. Vance
Sunday, 01 March 2015
Last week, I featured long-time journalist and disability advocate Finn Bullers of Kansas City, Kansas. I'm now featuring him again because of the... Read More...
IMAGE Monmouth Republicans Have a Bright Future
by Jack Archibald
Sunday, 01 March 2015
If last weekend was any indication, the Monmouth County Republican Party is in very good shape. In the dead of winter, the Monmouth GOP held two... Read More...

Upcoming Events

Fri Mar 06 @ 2:00PM - 07:00PM
Income Tax Help - Union Beach
Fri Mar 06 @ 7:00PM -
'Night at the Races' - AHES
Mon Mar 09 @ 7:00PM -
AH - American Legion Meeting
Wed Mar 11 @ 1:00PM -
NARFE Meets
Wed Mar 11 @ 7:00PM -
AH Council Meeting

joe_reynoldsIt was Christmas Eve along Sandy Hook Bay, a piece of the much larger Lower New York Bay and located downstream from the hustle and bustle of lower Manhattan. The windswept shore was empty of people. Indeed, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse, or for that matter even a gull.

It was chilly, windy day. Gusts up to 25 mph brought a shuddering chill to my exposed face. Nonetheless, the weather was sunny, bright and beautiful. A textbook day to search the edge of a winter beach for marine mammals. 

The tide was ebbing. I was optimistic at spotting a few Harbor Seals. Usually, the first seals of the winter will show up around Christmas Eve in Sandy Hook Bay. They arrive  long distances from either Long Island Sound or Nantucket Sound following schools of fish.

Nothing at first. Scanning the shore, though, I noticed a small sandbar or sandbank. It  was starting to form in the middle of the bay (about 150 yards from where I was standing).

Sure enough, out on this insignificant little sandbar, a number of seals were starting to appear. Here was my first sight of the winter population of Sandy Hook Bay Harbor Seals. They will call this place home for the next three months or so. Some years, as many as 140 seals haul out on sandbars and beaches inside the bay.

sh_seals_1

As the tide continued to fall, more of the sandbar became exposed above the surface of the water and an influx of seals hauled themselves up onto the bare wet sand. By dead low tide, there were at least 30 Harbor Seals spotted.

From what I could see through my binoculars, the seals looked healthy, good sized, and their skin was shiny, like a seal you might see at an aquarium. Except these seals were wild and free - the best way to see any animal!

 sh_seals_2

Many of the older seals were lying in the center resting and digesting their latest meal, while younger, immature  seals located on the edge of the sandbar were more active. They would slip into the water for a minute or two before hauling out to take a break, then slide back into the water.

Sandy Hook Bay seems to be a favorite winter place for many seals to rest, relax, and enjoy. The site seems perfect for their needs. The bay is protected from large ocean waves, there are sandbars and remote beaches to rest during the daytime, and it sits adjacent to a deepwater sea channel that leads to traveling fish.

Throughout the winter in Lower New York Bay, the seals can forage for winter flounder, blackfish, eels and sliver hake. These fish can be found in the coldest months and are plentiful when many other species of fish are not.

All looked good on this Christmas Eve. I was enjoying the pleasure of seeing seals in the bay. Then  out of nowhere  a rude kayaker arrived. He approached to close to the sandbar and scared all the wary seals away. What a jerk. Bah humbug!

sh_seals_3

Kayakers need to be especially careful when paddling in the water with seals because the boats have the same profile as a shark and can stress an entire group of seals. Boaters and kayakers need to observe a safe minimum distance of fifty yards (or 150 feet) away from seals.

Beach walkers, especially a person walking a pet, need to take care NOT to make their presence known — either visually or audibly — when you come across an individual or a group of seals. Seals may flee into the water immediately when they hear or sight a human. This flight disrupts their habits and may endanger their health.

Please maintain a minimum distance of 150 feet from any marine mammal in the water or on the shore to prevent a disturbance. View them from a distance. It is illegal to harass, kill, or possess any marine mammal (dead or alive) in the US. Seals can also give a serious, bacteria-laden bite, despite those big, sad, "come hither" eyes.

If you think a seal is in distress, do not touch or approach it. Contact the police or a park ranger and give the seals exact location and a description of the animal. You may also contact directly the Marine MammalStranding Center in NJ at (609) 266-0538 or the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation in New York City at (631)369.9829

For more information, pictures and year-round sightings of wildlife in or near Sandy Hook Bay, please check out my blog entitled, Nature on the Edge of New York City at http://natureontheedgenyc.blogspot.com/