Plethora of harbor seals bask off Midcoast’s shores

Mon, 08/17/2015 - 3:30pm

Story Location:
Goose Island, ME
United States

PENOBSCOT BAY — A stretch of hot, humid weather has driven locals and tourists alike to hit the water, and if one has the chance to glide out a few miles across Penobscot Bay, set a course for Goose Island.

Goose Island is located between and to the east of tiny uninhabited Saddle Island, to the south, and Lasell Island, to the north, or thereabouts. It is also nearly straight across from Rockport Harbor.

Goose Island, which is more or less a big rock that is more visible or less visible depending on the tide, is a popular waypoint for mariners, both because it’s something one does not want to strike with the bow of a boat, and it’s often covered with basking seals.

It is also a good waypoint for those making a beeline for Pulpit Harbor, a popular protected spot to drop anchor and stay for lunch or an overnight, maybe even jump off for a quick swim.

Goose Island is about five miles out from Camden Harbor, and a little more than a one-hour sail at 3+ knots.

The Atlantic Coast of Maine is a popular spot to see seals, including harbor seals, grey seals, harp seals and hooded seals. Harbor seal pups are born in the spring and summer time, while grey, harp and hooded seals pup generally during the winter months.

According to College of the Atlantic’s Allied Whale organization, which is authorized by NOAA Fisheries to respond to marine mammal emergencies and strandings, covering the area from Rockland north to the Canadian border, harbor seals are the most common seal found in Maine, followed by grey seals, which can often be found in the company of harbor seals. Harp and hooded seals typically live in Arctic regions, but in the past decade have begun increasing their range to include the East Coast.

Allied Whale, COA's marine mammal research group, was founded in 1972 to conduct research for the effective conservation of marine mammal populations and their habitats, and to train students to enter careers related to those goals. On most trips aboard Bar Harbor Whale Watching Co. tour vessels, marine biologists are joined by COA students who assist in spotting and identifying whales, seals, sea birds and other marine life.