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Posts Tagged ‘seals’

“Stop the car!” my passenger shouted from the back seat as we neared the turnoff to Martinique Beach.  My friend Sybil had caught sight of her first seal and there it was, lying in the sea grass to the side of the road:  an adult harp seal.

Most of us can quickly recognize baby harp seals.  They’re the ones with the big dark eyes and completely white fur.  Once they become adults however, they acquire a silver coat with a black head and markings, looking very little like the photogenic youngsters they once were.

Harp seals are mammals that spend most of their time eating fish in the ocean.  This one seemed to be enjoying the brief interlude of sunshine in the sea grass. 

I’m not sure how frequently harp seals visit our local shores.  They are usually found in the waters off Greenland and Newfoundland.  Apparently when they are seen here in Nova Scotia, they are solitary.  This one certainly seemed to be alone.

Last April I spotted a lone harbor seal in the salt marsh.  Though some people claim to see seals regularly on our shores or in our waters, this is only the third time I’ve seen one.     

The sighting was the highlight of the afternoon for not just me and Sybil of Eastern Passage Passage, but also our accompanying friend and blogger Lynne of Five Good Things who is visiting from England.  Today’s scenic trip along the Eastern Shore certainly managed to get our collective seal of approval.

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Hearing loud splashes in the deeper waters of the marsh is not unusual.  Fish are frequently active at the water’s surface and birds such as cormorants and ospreys will often dive under in search of food.  But this morning’s splash was much louder than usual and the surrounding ripples revealed that the diver was indeed quite large.

For several minutes, my eyes darted across the grey water, looking to see what would surface.  Once the creature emerged, I was not disappointed.  It was a harbor seal.

This is the first time I’ve seen a seal in the salt marsh.  Apparently it’s not uncommon for harbor seals to follow fish inland during high tide.  They’ll also feed on clams and crabs which are plentiful in the marsh.

The winter before last I managed to see a seal on the iced inlet behind Rainbow Haven Beach.  It was the first time I’d seen a live seal.  

Harbor seal behind Rainbow Haven - January 2009

Whether in the water or on the shore, harbor seals blend in very well with their surroundings.  I almost tripped on a dead one at Martinique Beach a couple of summers ago.  It was perfectly camouflaged among the rocks.  I wonder how many live ones have watched me over the years as I’ve walked along the shore, absorbed in thought.  Wildlife is all around us, whether or not we have the eyes to see.

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