The Environment

Herald staffers search for South Shore harbor seals

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Fourteen Herald Community Newspaper executives, editors and reporters bundled up in heavy coats and woolen hats and boarded the Capt. Lou VII in Freeport to take a two-hour tour of the waterways south of the village in search of harbor seals last Friday.

Herald Publishers Clifford and Stuart Richner sponsored the trip as a way to build editorial department camaraderie and familiarize staffers with the South Shore‚Äôs natural habitat. The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation offers the ‚Äúseal tours‚ÄĚ at this time of year to raise funds for the foundation and awareness of the ecological importance of Long Island‚Äôs wetlands. Harbor seals migrate from the waters off Maine to the Island‚Äôs bays and coves in winter.

With the temperature hovering at around 35 degrees and a stiff wind blowing, Herald staffers spotted an estimated 40 harbor seals floating and splashing in the channel north of Jones Beach.

The Riverhead Foundation is a nonprofit animal rescue group based in Riverhead and chartered under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. Seal tours run from January through mid-April. A naturalist or biologist is on board the Capt. Lou VII for each tour. For upcoming tour dates, go to riverheadfoundation.org. Tours depart at 1 p.m. Group rates apply. The Capt. Lou VII has a heated cabin where light snacks are available for purchase. For reservations, call (631) 369-9840.