Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island
Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island
Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island
Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island
Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island
Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island

CRESLI 2023-2024 Seal Walks and Cruises

Seal Walks at Cupsogue Beach and Seal Cruises at Shinnecock Bay

By: A. H. Kopelman, PhD


CRESLI 2023-2024 Seal Walks and Cruises

Our 19th year of CRESLI Seal Walks at Cupsogue Beach are underway.

Our 2nd year of CRESLI Seal Cruises in Shinnecock Bay will start in late January.

32,303 seal encounters at Cupsogue Beach since 2006 (542 trips)! 

Seals are seen typically throughout the 7 months (November through May), however the average number of individuals per sighting varies per month. Take a look at the chart below.

Monthly mean and standard error, # of harbor seals per sightings at Cupsogue  from 2006-2021


Join us this autumn, winter, and spring (our 19th year at Cupsogue) to observe, photograph, and learn about Long Island's seals.  

These 1.2 miles round trip walks are suitable for children and take about 1 to 1.5 hours. Learn from experts and see how citizen science works!


  • Check the weather for Cupsogue Beach and assume that the winds will produce wind chill. It’s better to be a more-on, than a less-on, i.e., having more layers than you need is the right thing. 
  • Please be prepared for the weather, i.e., wear warm clothing in layers. Hats, gloves, warm waterproof shoes are recommended, as are cameras and binoculars.


Please DO NOT PARTICIPATE IF YOU ARE SICK OR HAVE ANY COVID-19 SYMPTOMS. If you have recently been in contact with someone who is sick, Please Stay Home!

  • All equipment will be sanitized before and after each walk.

  • Telescopes and high resolution digital cameras with viewing screen will be available.


2023-2024 CRESLI Cupsogue Seal Walks

DATE ARRIVAL TIME (15 MINUTES BEFORE START) START TIME STATUS
Saturday, November 25, 2023 10:15 AM 10:30 AM See the report below
Saturday, December 9, 2023 9:30 AM 9:30 AM See the report below
Saturday, December 23, 2023 9:15 AM 9:30 AM See the report below
Sunday, December 24, 2023 9:45 AM 10:00 AM See the report below
Monday, December 25, 2023 11:00 AM 11:15 AM See the report below
Thursday, December 28, 2023 1:45 PM 2:00 PM See the report below
Saturday, January 6, 2024 7:45 AM 8:00 AM See the report below
Sunday, January 7, 2024 8:45 AM 9:00 AM CANCELED DUE TO WEATHER
Saturday, January 20, 2024 7:45 AM 8:00 AM CANCELED DUE TO EXTREME CONDITIONS
Sunday, January 21, 2024 8:45 AM 9:00 AM CANCELED DUE TO EXTREME CONDITIONS
Saturday, February 3, 2024 7:00 AM 7:15 AM See the report below
Saturday, February 17, 2024 7:00 AM 7:15 AM See the report below
Sunday, February 18, 2024 7:45 AM 8:00 AM See the report below
Tuesday, February 20, 2024 9:45 AM 10:00 AM See the report below
Thursday, February 22, 2024 10:45 AM 11:00 AM See the report below
Sunday, March 3, 2024 6:15 AM 6:30 AM AVAILABLE
Saturday, March 16, 2024 6:15 AM 6:30 AM AVAILABLE
Sunday, March 17, 2024 6:14 AM 7:00 AM AVAILABLE
Sunday, March 31, 2024 6:30 AM 6:45 AM AVAILABLE
Saturday, April 13, 2024 6:45 AM 7:00 AM AVAILABLE
Sunday, April 14, 2024 6:45 AM 7:00 AM AVAILABLE


Seal Walk Reservations are required and can be made at forms.gle/zpNesBCmGTMUe4Bk8


Your reservation is valid regardless of donation(s), a donation in advance is helpful, but NOT REQUIRED. 

In the event that we cancel due to weather, you will contacted via cell phone and email

  • Spotting scopes and high resolution digital cameras with viewing screens will be available
  • It is strongly suggested that your bring your own binoculars.
  • Feel free to also bring your own telescopes and cameras


2023-2024 CRESLI SEAL OBSERVATIONS at CUPSOGUE 

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2023 - SEAL WALK

Our first seal walk of this 2024 season was challenging, with brisk NW wind at 15 knots, and cold temperatures. We saw no seals hauled out, but with patience we eventually found 3 Atlantic harbor seals (Phoca vitulina vitulina) swimming and feeding on Atlantic menhaden.  Upon the return to the parking area, a few of us ventured to the ocean side and saw a large Atlantic gray seal (Halichoerus grypus) (not photographed). 

Photos are available to view and purchase (funds go to help support CRESLI's work)

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2023 SEAL MONITORING

Seal monitoring trip with Jordan Kissane of News12. 14 harbor seals hauled out on the far NNE section of the sandbar, 600 yards away. A harbor seal named "Horseshoe" is back for his 19th year.

Photos are available to view and purchase (funds go to help support CRESLI's work)

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2023 - SEAL MONITORING and WALK

1.5 hours prior to the scheduled seal walk, as many as 50 Atlantic harbor seals were hauled out on the distant region of the sand bar, approximately 450 yards away. A Nikon Z8 with a Nikkor Z 180-600mm lens at 600mm, on a tripod with a new ProMediaGear Gimbal head, made it possible to capture photos with enough detail to count the seals (using ImageJ). When Dr. Kopelman, the CRESLI volunteers and the folks who joined us returned, the seals were gone, except for a few we spotted swimming.  What caused the seals to flush from the sandbar, who knows? We were glad to see a few. The photos are primarily from the monitoring session prior to the walk.

Photos are available to view and purchase (funds go to help support CRESLI's work)

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2023 -  SEAL WALK FOR THE SOUTH OCEAN MIDDLE SCHOOL

Seal walk for South Ocean Middle School (Patchogue-Mefdord School District). We found 36-40 Atlantic harbor seals were hauled out on the distant region of the sand bar, approximately 400 yards away. 

Photos are available to view and purchase (funds go to help support CRESLI's work)

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2023 SEAL WALK

It was a beautiful day at Cupsogue Beach, perhaps too nice. We expect to see an average of about 50-60 seals per sighting in December, but none were hauled out.  We stayed where we could observe them without disturbing them, and ultimately found 11 harbor seals swimming in the area, including several that Dr. Artie Kopelman identied upon reviewing his photographs. Noise from shotguns, aircraft and lots of loud people at the shoreline of the Moriches Bay made it made it impossible for the seals to haul-out. 

Our plea to all who venture to view seals, go on a guided trip first and learn what not to do. You and the seals will be better off.

Photos are available to view and purchase (funds go to help support CRESLI's work)

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2023 - SEAL WALK

It was a gray and cloudy day at Cupsogue Beach. Again, we expected to see an average of about 50-60 seals per sighting in December, but just about 36 were hauled-out far away on the tertiary area, when Dr. Kopelman went to view the seals prior to the scheduled seal walk.Upon returning with the group, we found 20 seals had hauled-out on a further north region of the sandbar (quarternary area).

Photos are available to view and purchase (funds go to help support CRESLI's work)

MONDAY, DECEMBER 25, 2023 - SEAL WALK

A clear, warm, and calm day. During the monitoring session prior to the seal walk, Dr. Kopelman photographed between 60 and 80 seals hauled-out on the far eastern area of the sand bar (tertiary area). Upon arreival with the group, we watched from far away a the entire haulout left the sand bar. With patience, we observed the seals swimming and ultimately ~63 of them hauling out on the more northern quarternary area.

Photos are available to view and purchase (funds go to help support CRESLI's work)

Thursday, December 28, 2023 - SEAL WALK

About 30 people braved the weather and partially flooded park entrance for today's seal walk. The rain ended and the fog lifted as we walked to one of the viewing areas. As in some recent trips, we saw no seals hauled-out, but did see about 3 swimming in the distance. We waited patiently and eventually an Atlantic harbor seal swam directly in front of us, albeit some 120 yards away. That seal is named "Hammer-head-right," a female in the CRESLI Cupsogue Harbor seal catalog back for her 19th consecutive year!

Photos are available to view and purchase (funds go to help support CRESLI's work)

Thursday, January 4, 2024 - SEAL- MONITORING

Just after sunrise, 128 harbor seals were hauled-out across the primary and secondary haul-out areas. It was wonderful to see them back at the closer area and in good numbers. It was completely overcast and there were no major disturbances. Gun shots from duck hunters could be heard and some seals picked uop their heads and looked around briefly,but remained on the sandbar.

Photos are available to view and purchase (funds go to help support CRESLI's work)

Here's a slideshow

Saturday, January 6, 2024 - SEAL MONITORING AND WALK

What a difference a few days and hours make. Today, unlike on 1/4/24, the seals were once again seen by on the tertiary haulout area (far to the ENE) just after at sunrise. It looked like ~60 seals, but photos were not taken, assuming that we'd have better light 1.25 hrs later when he group would arrive. In that time, unfortunately, the seals were flushed from the sandbar again and we were able to eventually find 6 harbor seals swimming, and added 2 new seals to our catalog (now at 232 harbor seals).

Photos are available to view and purchase (funds go to help support CRESLI's work)

Here's a slideshow

Monday, January 8, 2024 - SEAL WALK for OREGON MIDDLE SCHOOL

Seal walk for Oregon Middle School (Patchogue-Mefdord School District). We found 6 Atlantic harbor seals swimming and none hauled-out. A Nikon Z8 with a Nikkor Z 180-600mm lens at 600mm, on a tripod with a new ProMediaGear Gimbal head, made it possible to capture photos of two of the swimmers.

Photos are available to view and purchase (funds go to help support CRESLI's work)

 

Friday, January 12, 2024 - SEAL MONITORING

Seal monitoring session, joined by Joe Arena of News 12 Long Island and videographer. Luckily, their vehicle was able to traverse through the deeply flooded entrance to the parking lot. ~50 seals were hauled-out on their far NE tertiary area of the sandbar.

Photos are available to view and purchase (funds go to help support CRESLI's work)

Here's a slideshow

Saturday, February 3, 2024 - SEAL WALK

About 20 people braved the windy and cold conditions this morning. The sun had just risen as we talked about seals in the parking area. It was a beautiful morning, but again, no seals were hauled-out. We stayed and looked and eventually found 3 harbor seals swimming near the sandbar, and one splashing near the shore just east of us. Unfortunaely, no photos were taken. This has been a very tough year. On our 16 trips thus far, we have had only 527 seal encounters, compared to 983 by the 16th trip last year. We will be out there again soon and hope to have better results.

Thursday, February 8, 2024-SEAL WALK for MASSAPEQUA HIGH SCHOOL, MARINE BIOLOGY CLASS

Students from Hailey Giordano's, Marine Bio Class at Massapequa High School, working with Dr. Kopelman to help count and provide names identified seals, wer able to observe ~50 harbor seals on the tertiary haul-out area. Some seals eventually swam in our direction and 1 hauled-out on the primary sand bar.  a few  of the others were photogrpahed as they swam past us. 

Photos are available to view and purchase (funds go to help support CRESLI's work)

Here's a slideshow

Saturday, February 17, 2024 - SEAL WALK

Quite a few folks braved the snow to join us on this seal walk. The  snow made viisibility difficult, but we could hear ther growls of harbor seals and see them using binoculars, at a few spots through the trees on our walk.  However, once again, the seals had been flushed by a vessel and were gone by the time we got closer. We did see 1 harbor seal swimming, but no photos were taken.

Sunday, February 18, 2024 - SEAL WALK

Many intrepid people braved the wind and cold to join us on the walk.  We were not disappointed and found 51 harbor seals hauled out on the tertiary haul-out area. Although the seals were 630 yards from where we set up our telescope and camera, we were able to view 51 harbor seals huddled together on the sandbar. We decided to move to a further spot (710 yards from the seals) that gave us a slightly higher perspective, in order to get better views for counting. At our lower spot, we were somewhat p[rotected from the wind, but not so up in the camping area. However, all who stayed were happy to view undisturbed seals (albeit cold)

Photos are available to view and purchase (funds go to help support CRESLI's work)

Here's a slideshow

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

This was a beauiful day, albeit moderately windy. 6 Atlantic harbor seals were seen hauled-out on the far off tertiary region of the sandbar about 40 minutes prior to the walk. Upon return to the region, we observed those 6 seals swimming, porpopising, and cavorting, but no longer hauled-out

Photos are available to view and purchase (funds go to help support CRESLI's work)

Here's a slideshow

Thursday, February 22, 2024

A beautiful day, with little wind, and no direct observable disturbance of seals until later.  Dr. Kopelman maonitored the site prior to our walk and encountered aboput 60 seals hauled-out on the tertiary region of the sandbar. Upon returning with the participants, we found the seals resting in that same area. CRESLI volunteers counted 68-70 seals (confirmed by photos later). As we were ready to leave a Suffolk County Police Med-Evac Helicopter flew over the seals several times.  While the seals were undisturbed, that aircraft was very low and could have caused the eaals to leave the sandbar, a violation of federal and NYS state laws. The incident will be reported to the appropriate authorities.

Photos are available to view and purchase (funds go to help support CRESLI's work)

Here's a slideshow

20024 Shinnecock Bay Cruise Reports
DATE REPORT
Saturday, January 27, 2024 

Fantastic trip! We were lucky enough to be able to watch as seals arriving from the ocean swam north towards the haul-out site. While just a few seals were hauled out at first, they kept coming 34 seals, then 47 seals, the 72, then 79, then over 90. We were able to observe some classic loud and sometimes violent contests between seals for space of the sandbar. We also many seals with distinctive markings including 2 that we'd last seen in late October. An amazing experience for all of us.

Photos and videos can be viewed and purchased here (funds go to help support CRESLI's work)

SEE OUR SEAL CRUISE PAGE FOR MORE INFO ON UPCOMING TRIPS

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Another amazing trip on Shinnecock Bay! CRESLI Senior scientist/naturalist, Dr. Artie Kopelman, with the help of his trained volunteers and the fantastic crew of the R/V Peconic, brought us to see 205 Atlantic harbor seals hauled-out on a sandbar in Shinnecock Bay. These photos were taken using a Nikon Z 8 camera and a Nikkor Z 180-600mm lens. Some have been merged to form panoramioc views to facilitate counting, and others were digitally cropped. All photos were taken without disturbing seals from distances in full compliance with federal and NYS statues regarding marine mammals. Our thanks to Captain Chris, and to Chris Paparo for their help. We also thank Stony Brook University, SoMAS and the Marine Sciences Center at the Southampton Campus. One final thank you to our co-sponsors, the South Fork Natural History Center and Museum

Photos and videos can be viewed and purchased here (funds go to help support CRESLI's work)

Monday, February 19, 2024

 

Dr. Kopelman's Stony Brook University, Spring 2024 MAR395-01 (Marine Mammal Research Techniques) class, once again traveled on the R/V Peconic, to view and count seals on the Shinnecock Bay haul-out area. We encountered 141 seals: 140 Atlantic harbor seals and 1 male Atlantic gray seal. Our thanks, again, to Captain Chris Winsor and Mate (and classmate) Matt Dean

Photos and videos can be viewed and purchased here (funds go to help support CRESLI's work)

   

LAST YEAR'S SEAL WALK AND MONITORING SIGHTINGS (2022-2023)

  • 2,381 seal encounters this season at Cupsogue Beach (Moriches Bay, NY)
  • Overall average of 72.5 ± 10.5 seals/encounter (all trips, n=33)
  • Undisturbed average of  93.04 ± 12.2 seals/encounter for undisturbed encounters (n=26)

Best Images and Videos from the 2022-2023 CRESLI Seal Season


Please go to our Seal Cruise Page for more information and reservations regarding our 2024 CRESLI SHINNECOCK BAY SEAL CRUISES on the R/V Peconic will begin again on January 27, 2024.


Contact Dr. Artie Kopelman to arrange additional dates and times during the week for school groups, homeschoolers, and other groups


From our colleagues at NOAA Fisheries New England/Mid-Atlantic: 

If you see seals on the beach, use the Rule of Thumb while watching seals to make sure you are giving them enough space.
1) Close one eye.
2) Make a thumbs up and hold your thumb so it's in line with your vision and the seal.
3) If you can see the seal from behind your thumb, you are too close so back up!

https://www.facebook.com/NOAAFisheriesNEMA/photos/a.1841106822794035/2588783844692992/

Don't forget to contact your local stranding network 631-369-9829, or our regional hotline 866-755-6622, if you see an injured seal!


CRESLI Cupsogue Seal Videos on Vimeo


Information on past CRESLI seal walks (from 2002-2022)


CRESLI is a non-profit organization as defined in section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All Contributions are deductible to the fullest extent of the law. A copy of the last financial report filed with the Department of State may be obtained by writing to NYS Dept. of State, Office of Charities Registration, Albany, NY 12231.