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AHH 24-Hr. News

IMAGE Police Make Arrest in Early Monday Morning Shooting in Neptune
Tuesday, 21 October 2014
FREEHOLD, NJ - Authorities have arrested a 22-year-old Asbury Park man and charged him in connection with the early Monday morning shooting of a... Read More...
IMAGE Citgo and Civil Air Patrol Honor CAP Members for Service During WWII
Tuesday, 21 October 2014
PHOTO: Don Rowland, Civil Air Patrol chief operating officer, presents a replica of a CAP World War II Stinson to Eduardo Assef, CITGO vice... Read More...
Students Participate in Bullying Prevention Month through Foundation Essay Contest
Tuesday, 21 October 2014
The Charles Lafitte Foundation (CLF) Kid’s Corner is hosting a special “National Bullying Prevention Month” Essay Contest to encourage kids to... Read More...
IMAGE Middletown North Class of '15 Hosts Haunted Woods
Tuesday, 21 October 2014
MIDDLETOWN, NJ - Middletown High School North’s Class of 2015 proudly presents the annual Haunted Woods. Wander in to our haunted trails and watch... Read More...
CBA Entrance Exam for Class of 2019 to be Held on Nov. 1
Tuesday, 21 October 2014
CBA ENTRANCE EXAM FOR CLASS OF 2019 TO BE HELD ON NOVEMBER 1 LINCROFT, N.J. – October 20, 2014 – Online registration is now open for the... Read More...

Columns

IMAGE Review - The Skeleton Twins
by David Prown
Sunday, 19 October 2014
Recently a good friend shared that she was very amped up to see the new movie "The Skeleton Twins" playing at the Bow Tie in Red Bank. She is a big... Read More...
IMAGE Halloween Special Feature: Remembering Hans Holzer’s Paranormal Investigations in NJ (Part I)
by Dennis
Sunday, 19 October 2014
When it came to ghosts, ghouls, and stories from beyond the grave, few spoke as authoritatively as the late Dr. Hans Holzer. The Austrian-born... Read More...
IMAGE Who Put a Silver Bracelet on a Bird?
by Joe Reynolds
Saturday, 18 October 2014
As autumn progresses around New York Harbor (including the lower reaches of Sandy Hook Bay and Raritan Bay), royalty has returned to our sandy... Read More...
IMAGE Individualism and Group Activities Reconsidered
by George Hancock-Stefan
Friday, 17 October 2014
A short while ago, one of the high school students in my church told me that she hates group projects.  She finished her part already, but... Read More...
IMAGE Henry Hudson Tri-District Education Foundation to Support STEM and Athletic Programs
by Jack Archibald
Friday, 17 October 2014
In the competitive landscape of education, today’s students need every advantage to get ahead.  There are many things that factor into a... Read More...

Upcoming Events

Wed Oct 22 @ 9:30AM - 10:00AM
Baby Story Time Ages 10 – 24 months
Wed Oct 22 @10:30AM - 10:50AM
Toddler Story Time Ages 2 & 3
Thu Oct 23 @ 9:00AM - 11:00AM
Middletown Mayor Open Office Hours
Thu Oct 23 @ 3:15PM - 03:45PM
School Age Programs Grades K and up
Thu Oct 23 @ 4:00PM - 04:30PM
Preschool Story Time Ages 3 – 5

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/