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AHH 24-Hr. News

IMAGE Students to Provide a Meal for Employees of King James Care Center on Christmas Day
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
PHOTO: MTRS 8th Grade Leadership Program Students with MTRS Teacher, Mrs. Baeder.  Sign reads "A Dinner Fit for a King"   (Photo Courtesy of Kelly Condon)   Atlantic Highlands, NJ - Leadership development and giving back to the community is... Read More...
Monmouth County Freeholders Organization Meeting Jan 6
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Sine Die, organization meeting will be held Jan. 6 FREEHOLD – The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders will organize for 2015 at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 6 at the MonmouthCountyBiotechnologyHigh School at 5000 Kozloski Rd. On the agenda will... Read More...
IMAGE Red Bank Police Report - December 11, 2014
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Red Bank, NJ - The following police report is provided by the Red Bank Police Department.  All subjects are presumed innocent; unless, and until, proven guilty in a court of law. December 04, 2014 – December 11, 2014 CRIMES: Burglary, Theft... Read More...
IMAGE RBR Tradition Continues in Making Holidays Brighter for the Residents at Linkages
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
PHOTO: RBR English teacher Cassandra Dorn displays just a fraction of the donated gifts collected by the staff and students of Red Bank Regional High School to benefit Linkages, an organization that houses homeless mothers and their children.  Ms... Read More...
Chairman Menendez’s Statement on U.S. – Cuba Relationship
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Newark, N.J. – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), issued this statement regarding the U.S. – Cuba relationship. “Today’s policy announcement is misguided and fails to understand the nature of the regime in... Read More...

Columns

IMAGE Our Forefathers Knew Better
by George Hancock-Stefan
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
When one does a comparison between the 17th and 20th centuries in regards to the goodness of humanity, one comes with two different views.  The... Read More...
IMAGE Review - Top Five
by David Prown
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
The other day I was scanning moviefone.com to get a sense of new releases for this weekend. Never heard of Chris Rock's "Top Five" and tried to get a... Read More...
IMAGE Skewed View - December 16, 2014
by Tom Brennan
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Got 60 grand?  Well, you can use it to pay down your debt or buy Burt Reynold's Smokey & The Bandit TransAm: http://usat.ly/1G9j9n6 Parenting... Read More...
IMAGE Stupid Christmas Gifts
by Anne Mikolay
Monday, 15 December 2014
Yes, I know. Tis the thought that counts...blah, blah, blah. But let's be honest. Shall we? Whether it's a collectible you don't collect, or a... Read More...
IMAGE The Normal Culture, and Why Liberals Abandoned It
by Woody Zimmerman
Monday, 15 December 2014
When I was a boy, most people lived in a way we considered a “normal” – although we didn’t really call it that. The country simply accepted... Read More...

Upcoming Events

Wed Dec 17 @ 9:30AM - 10:00AM
Baby Story Time Ages 10 – 24 months
Wed Dec 17 @10:30AM - 10:50AM
Toddler Story Time Ages 2 & 3
Wed Dec 17 @ 6:00PM -
Red Bank Menorah Lighting
Wed Dec 17 @ 7:00PM -
Holiday Music at Strauss Mansion
Thu Dec 18 @ 3:15PM - 03:45PM
School Age Programs Grades K and up

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/