Last week, a rare Harp Seal was seen and photographed in a Meadowlands natural area by Steve McNamara of the Dawson Group.
When we got word of the discovery, we went to the location with the MEC's Sue Lewicki, who is a volunteer with the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine to make sure everything was all right. (Thanks, Steve, for taking the photos accompanying this post, and thank to Peg McBrien of The Louis Berger Group for forwarding the photos to us.)
We are happy to report that the seal had apparently moved on. It turns out that these seals, which typically live in the Northern Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean, have been seen farther and farther south this winter.
Sue Lewicki points out that the Marine Mammal Stranding Center has four Harp Seals in holding tanks at the moment. (Link to the Marine Mammal Stranding Center is here.)
Tom Lake, Hudson River Estuary Program Naturalist for the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, reports: "We have had at least one (healthy) Harp Seal in the Hudson in each of the last two winters as far upstream as river mile 41. I know of no occurrences prior to that time so maybe there is some kind of minor shift in their population and range. Climate change, etc., has us thinking along those lines with both fish and marine mammals."
More on Harp Seals here.
Next week: What to do if you see a seal in a North Jersey waterway.
SEVERAL YEARS AAGO SEVERAL SEALS WERE IN THE HACKENSACK RIVER NEAR THE ROUTE 4 BRIDGE. THEY WERE SEEN IN THE REAR OF FAIRLEIGH DICKENSON UNIVERSITY.