Setting sights on seals with the DNRT

Mar 16, 2024

Six months out of the year, New Bedford resident Naomi Boak is in Alaska helping spot the hefty mammals highlighted in the annual Fat Bear Week as a park ranger at Katmai. 

However, on Saturday, March 16, she was one of many who joined the Dartmouth Natural Resource Trust in search of another mammal who turns out to also be rather large in size.

Many of this year’s Seal Walk participants were surprised to learn that the seals on the Atlantic seashore can range anywhere from 400 to 900 pounds.

Jamie Bogart, a research associate for the Lloyd Center, explained how there are three types of seals common to the seashore. While the harbor and harp seal are on the smaller end of the spectrum, gray seals beckon the spotlight of Alaska’s brown bears.

Though they may not be starting a Fat Seal Week anytime soon, it wasn’t too hard to catch a glimpse of two seals sunbathing on a rock down by Mishaum Point on Saturday.

“I’ve seen lots of seals in Alaska,” Boak said. “I’ve been out on fishing boats, but to see seals near where you live is just exciting.”

Andrea Langhauser, board member of the DNRT, highlighted how it was a beautiful day and the group had the opportunity to walk a part of the coast line that isn’t always available.

DNRT members Jocelyn Devine and Brian Riley agreed.

“It’s a unique opportunity,” Riley said. “So we really appreciate the people who own these private areas [for] letting the DNRT have access.”

He and Devine emphasized how great it was to be outdoors and experiencing nature in Dartmouth.

Devine said she knows one thing for sure: “I’ll be back next year!”

DNRT members Meg and Rich Sapia said it was their first time doing a Seal Walk and they were excited to do it on a day with great weather.

“It’s awesome,” Meg said. “It’s beautiful out here — with the scope you can really see the seals out on the rock.” 

She added, “We moved here a year and a half ago and this is part of what drew us here — the DNRT.”

Jim Forbush, former president of the DNRT board, attended the Seal Walk for the first time as well and highlighted the DNRT’s improvement in programming with options for everyone of all ages and interests. 

“We have walks galore!” he said. 

Forbush was also impressed by the size of Atlantic seashore’s seals: “They don’t look as big as they weigh, but they weigh a lot.”