NEWPORT, R.I. – Children and adults get so excited about seeing large amounts of big seals in Narragansett Bay that they, well, blubber.
“What we hear most is that people feel very privileged simply to be out on the Bay – even if the weather is not perfect. Aside from that, we notice that small children are totally captivated by the experience,” said John Martin, Director of Public Relations for Save The Bay. “They can’t wait to board Alletta Morris, and boredom is never a problem. It’s that way from the youngest kids to the oldest adults.
“We also meet people from all around the world.” he added. “They flock to Newport, but most do not feel as though they have enjoyed the whole experience without being out on the Bay. The seals help make that connection and people are extremely curious about why they come, what they eat and how long they stay.”
Seals from Canada are eating more and staying longer as a direct result of a cleaner Bay, making for better tours.
“People learn that seals love our Bay because there are virtually no natural predators and an abundant supply of their favorite food, which is herring. And therein lies a story about how conditions in the Bay have been steadily improving over the years,” added Martin. “We like to tell people there are more seals because there are more fish because more people have taken up Save The Bay’s call to protect and restore Narragansett Bay.
“The great day of seal watching they enjoy is the result of making the Bay cleaner and healthier. That’s tangible, you know? And most of the people who come out with us feel that there is something they have done, something that they are doing, or something they will be doing that keeps the ecosystem moving in a positive direction,” he said.
Touring the bay
Tours really, pardon the pun, took off after the acquisition of the group’s education vessel, Alletta Morris, in 2001.
“She accommodates about 30 people and is a very steady platform. The fact that the boat is partially heated also helps make going out to see the seals a great winter adventure,” said Martin. “Word of mouth has been great.”
Now, you can join Save The Bay and Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation for remaining seasonal seal watching tours on Saturday, Dec. 4 and Sunday, Dec. 5 at noon.
Expert guides and binoculars provide an educational view for the seasonal marine visitors aboard ship.
After the cruise, you might head over to Save The Bay’s Exploration Center and Aquarium to look inside a seal’s body or make a seal craft.
One hour cruises are $20 per person ($15 for members, seniors or children 5-12. Children under 5 are free with a paying adult. Two-hour cruises are $30 per person and include a lighthouse tour ($25 for the same discounted groups).
It isn’t just fun, it’s important, said Martin.
“(People) should realize that the Bay cannot advocate for itself. Its only voice comes from the people. Seal watch tours remind people that, with this great resource, comes individual responsibility for its care,” he said. “And because a seal watch tour is fundamentally a tourist attraction, people more easily connect the dots between a clean Bay and a healthy Rhode Island economy. Time and again, we hear people say, ‘I’m so glad we decided to do this.’”