07-25-2000, 03:27 PM
There is a news article on the Monomoy seal population and the effect tourists are having at:
I haven't noticed any drop in the number of seals in that area -- of course I have no scientific info, just casual observation. I have noticed that they've gotten much bolder. While at Common Flat two weeks ago, there was a small seal that was "playing" with a 24" schoolie all around the boat. Never saw the seal actually eat the fish (which was clearly wounded or very tired). The seal was having a grand time of the whole thing right under my feet, though.
This Sunday I was well out past the J bouy on South beach and watched one of the seal tour boats (not Rip Ryder)power right up to and then float through a group of seals that had been lounging on a sand bar for over 2 hours. I was upset with the boat operators lack of skill and concern for the seals as he busted up their siesta and upset that now they would be hunting and chasing off the fish I was after.
The ocean is the seals home and we're visitors.
I believe that if the boneheads in the boats can't use some common sense when approaching seals, I'm sure it's just a matter of time before some group lobbies & successfully shuts down access to the area to protect the seals - and we lose our rights to fish there.
On the other hand, think about the damage the seal population has inflicted on salmon in the Pacific NW & how marina's in California have been taken over by them.
I heard a dead seal was found out on Monomoy last week. Anyone know what the cause was?
07-25-2000, 04:28 PM
Interesting. A couple years ago when the seal population was really starting to boom down there, some of the lobstermen were petitioning to be allowed to kill the seals because they would follow their boats around and eat all the chicks that got thrown back over board (smart seals!).
I used to spend a lot of time down their in my youth when there were NO seals in the summer, and think they are a cool addition to a unique part of the Cape. They are bold, and very curious. Twice this past week on North Beach seals came over to check US out: once I was out on a boogie board with a wet suit on and a seal playing in the same waves we were came over to check us out, he kept his distance but it was pretty cool. More interesting, at high tide I was on the beach with a friend and his dog and a seal popped up right in the trough behind the high water mark, he was checking us out at first but became totally fixated on the dog, which was all gray and sort of looked like a seal, maybe he thought they were related.
I have yet to hear of a human caused seal fatality, they seem pretty smart and adaptive--i think there is room for us all.
I was going to blame them for the lack of blues up the beach though!
07-25-2000, 10:28 PM
Jeff you're kidding right? Boogie boarding with seals?
It's just a matter of time before an apex predator moves in for lunch. I hope you don't end up an entree.
I've seen Orca once up close, a Mako from a distance but never a Great White. Only on video and that was close enough.
FWIW, I believe the IGF world record GW was caught off Block Island.
Thanks for the link Steve, I didn't know seal numbers were declining around Chatham, it comes as a surprise but it is concerning. They do seem to be more bold in fact a number of us have had close encounters. No threat, but it sure gets the adrenalin going to be circled by a seal when standing thigh deep on a flat far from shore.
Jeff, those same lobstermen occasionally bring home a cow bass that was eating the chicks too. Not many will admit it in public but I'm sure you know that huge fish follow lobster boats when seals aren't competing with them. I know some guys who even use the short lobsters for bait. What I take away from all this is, we need a better way to release undersized lobsters safely to the bottom.
I admit being followed by big horseheads is a little un-nerving. Maybe it's the black onyx eyes. Maybe because you know they are capable of fairly complex thought. They are definitely learning that fishermen mean tired schoolies. Like Gregg says, after a dam and boat locks were built on a major salmon river system in Seattle, the sea lions taught their offspring to come to the spot until the area became an annual massacre spot. No matter what people did to the seals, they would come back and bring their pups. The source of the problem was not the seals, it was the poor design of the fish ladder and dam. Now the steelhead population is all but extinct in the river, and most fishermen blame the seals. Not so, the dam allowed the seals to become a factor. The seals are in every river mouth, but only impact the population of fish with man's help. A simple grate system wide enough for 100 pound king salmon but too narrow for sea lions would suffice. Once past the boat locks, there is no navigation all the way to the dam. This is the massacre zone.
In any case I agree, we need to learn how to co-exist.
Can't we all just get along? Ork Ork! http://22.214.171.124/images/flytalk/Wilk.gif
07-26-2000, 11:28 AM
I think I told this story already, but in the wrong place and it fits here. Those seals get a little unhinged when kayaks are around.
Last winter I was kayaking around Nauset harbor, scoping out structure and populating winter holes with spring fish in my mind. I skirted a monster pack of seals, giving them what I hoped was due distance. I mean, these are mammals the size of halfbacks who swim for a living. What was interesting was the very dog-like behavior of the pups. As I left what was clearly their territory, the small ones would come up and give chase and make big splashes behind me in the same manner that nervous dogs will bark at you once you're safely away.
So, at the Monomoy clave this spring I kayaked past a big herd of the critters at the break between the two islands. On the first pass through it was the same behavior as noted in Nauset, plus the added observation that seals read fishing magazines -- I mean, they were fishing the rip line exactly as you would and ambushing stuff in the lee of structure, they're textbook fishers.
Anyway, when I made my return pass they had been located by a couple of tourist boats. Now they had mostly stopped fishing and were just lolling around in a cove being gawked at. When I paddled by they went on high alert and kept an eye on me. I was close enough to hear what one of the guides was saying, "see how they watch that kayak? They're nervous, because it's silent and they don't know what it is. We make noise, and we're out here all the time, and the seals are used to us."
It was like a completely counter-intuitive conservation message, "bad kayak, good motorboats". But I get the point. My kayak is white, 13' long, and shaped like a...
07-26-2000, 01:15 PM
"What I take away from all this is, we need a better way to release undersized lobsters safely to the bottom."
Juro--I also take from this the fact that we need a killer chick lobster pattern in the fly archive!!!! Several years ago a comemrcial guy told me that while gutting a 40 lb. fish from the Merrimack he found 12 small lobsters in its stomache. I have never forgotten that tid bit.
Sully--believe me, we thought and joked about that quite a bit. Fortunately, the days we were in the water were the sunny days when you could see through the water for quite a distance and we had some sand bars to retreat to. I mean, realistically, all these seals are going to bring in predators at some point, but I don't plan on giving up the entire stretch of beach from Chatham to Truro because of their presence...
I will just be careful and smart....and carry a sawed of double barrel in my wet suit! Try swimming in Austraila some time if you like anxiety.