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AHH 24-Hr. News

IMAGE Monmouth University’s Science, Society, and Sustainability Seminar Series Presents Governor Florio on February 3
Sunday, 25 January 2015
Former Governor James J. Florio will speak at Monmouth University Feb. 3 West Long Branch, N.J. - Monmouth University’s Science, Sustainability, and Society Series, sponsored by the School of Science and Urban Coast Institute, presents a... Read More...
IMAGE Call for Entries - Monmouth County Park System 2015 Spring Arts Festival
Sunday, 25 January 2015
PICTURED –This carved rim bowl is an example of the artwork created at the Thompson Park Creative Arts Center. LINCROFT —  Calling all artists!  There’s still time to submit an entry into the Monmouth County Park System’s Spring... Read More...
IMAGE "If You Can See It, You Can Be It!" Contest Open to Students Grade 1-5
Sunday, 25 January 2015
Students in grades 1 – 5 called to create and submit characters that will star in an animated cartoon short to raise awareness of gender stereotypes in media.  Fair Haven, NJ – Small Factory Productions invites students... Read More...
IMAGE BSA Troop 32 Honors Two New Eagle Scouts - Jablonski, Katzgrau
Sunday, 25 January 2015
PHOTO: Middletown Boy Scout Troop 32 honors its Newest Eagle Scouts. From left: Timothy Katzgrau and Andrew Jablonski, both of Middletown. Middletown, New Jersey – Boy Scouts of America Troop 32’s leadership, scouts, friends, and family... Read More...
Catholic Schools Week 2015 to Feature Events Throughout Diocese
Saturday, 24 January 2015
Catholic Schools Week to feature events throughout Diocese TRENTON, NJ – Catholic schools throughout of the Diocese of Trenton – in Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean Counties – will join counterparts across the country and open their... Read More...

Columns

IMAGE What’s that Flock in the Bay?
by Joe Reynolds
Sunday, 25 January 2015
This was a week of counting wintering water-birds. The other day I looked out onto New York Harbor and saw a large raft of diving ducks. I counted at... Read More...
IMAGE Just Sayin...
by Anne Mikolay
Sunday, 25 January 2015
While watching this month's news broadcasts, I have concluded the world is steeped in irony. This tendency to fore-go common sense and do the... Read More...
IMAGE Father Trying to Build Understanding
by Daniel J. Vance
Saturday, 24 January 2015
You won't find too many dads that love like this. Joseph Hernandez of Auburn, Washington, knew before his son's birth that his son would have a birth... Read More...
IMAGE My Encounters with Police Officers
by George Hancock-Stefan
Tuesday, 20 January 2015
During the past few months when there has been so much discussion about police officers, I started to think a lot about how I view police officers,... Read More...
IMAGE An Untold Story - Part 1
by Daniel Murphy
Tuesday, 20 January 2015
This is a subject that I have not written or talked about before.  Some people, I am sure, will be looking at me as if I have finally lost a bit... Read More...

Upcoming Events

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/