blastwater

Montauk - Sharks & Seals

Rate this topic

69 posts in this topic

Soo…  With the growth of the local seal population and recent articles about Montauk being a GWS birthing area, have there been any documented reports of White Shark predation of seals off eastern LI?

I know there have been anecdotal reports of dead seals/dolphins with large wounds found on local beaches.

 

My kids and I spend a lot of time hiking both the north and south side beaches around Montauk…  In the past we’d see a seal from time to time and consider it a novelty.   This fall, gray/horsehead seals are literally everywhere. I took the dog for a quick walk yesterday from 15M to 17M and saw 3 of them just off the beach.  Watching surfers out by the Lighthouse off Turtle Cove on a big day, you can see almost as many seals bobbing in the water as surfers.

Walk east of Ditch Plains and there is literally a gray seal in every single cove and none of them seem to be the least bit “nervous”

 

Is it just a matter of time? Does predation on these seals occur but it’s just not documented? Is it documented but not made public? Or are these gray seals just too big for Mr. white and are generally left alone?

I assume they are way too big for juvi GWS and I thought I read somewhere that adult females naturally stop feeding when they are about to give birth as nature’s way of preventing them from eating their own cubs. Maybe they are living in the sweetspot between non feeding adult females and juveniles who don't view them as a food source? 

 

Just curious.  Any thoughts/input would be appreciated. 

Edited by blastwater

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The seals are there because they've been pushed south by over population or over predation, either way, as they continue breeding, nature will send out a message that there's an abundance of fat, juicy protein in the area and the predators will arrive ... the scariest scenario is that they're there due to over population, as that confirms that their natural predators are on the decline.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The seals are there because they've been pushed south by over population or over predation, either way, as they continue breeding, nature will send out a message that there's an abundance of fat, juicy protein in the area and the predators will arrive ... the scariest scenario is that they're there due to over population, as that confirms that their natural predators are on the decline.

I know why they're here, I think there is no doubt about the fact that they are expanding their range with population increases and their food sources decreasing...  

Perhaps my question should have been shorter and more concise....   Are they here yet? Is seal predation just not reported? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't heard of any confirmed instances of whites preying on seals off Long Island in recent years.  Doesn't mean that it hasn't happened, but we don't seem to have the same sort of dynamic going on off our waters than exists up on Cape Cod during the summer.

 

Certainly, gray seals are not too big for whites to take.  In fact, up on Cape Cod, they're the favored targets.

 

It may be that the overlap between the time when whites are most abundant off Long Island and the time when the seals are present is too small to let whites gather in numbers (satellite tags suggest that there are some off Long Island during the cold months, but the bulk of the whites seem to be elsewhere at that time).  And even though we're seeing more gray seals in local waters, the numbers are nothing like what you see up on Cape Cod when the whites are around.

 

Things may or may not change.  Seals may become summer residents, and if so, may attract more predation.  But so far, predation incidents, if they occur, have not been widely reported.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 Seals may become summer residents, and if so, may attract more predation.  But so far, predation incidents, if they occur, have not been widely reported.

Thank you, I was hoping that you'd reply to this question.  We have seen gray seals basically year round, I know that there were several in the cove just east of Shagwong pt. over the summer and throughout the fall.

Despite LI having a much smaller population of seals then cape cod and points north, the seals off Montauk are sitting ducks just off the beach in 8-12' of water. They don't appear to be nervous and don't seem to be wary of ANY predators. 

 

I also don't think any scientists are even watching the south shore of LI as there is so much interest in the cape area. I was hoping to flesh out some stories or anecdotal evidence from people in this forum who spend alot of time on the beach watching the water. 

Edited by blastwater

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As I wrote about on here earlier this Fall--

 

I am sure I saw a big GW from the CH cliffs at M. on or around Oct. 15th.  Was maybe 2- 3 casts off the beach,  in that 8- 12' of water you describe.

 

Since there were more Grey Seals up- Front at M. this Fall than "big" Stripers...  I'm sure that's why this Shark was there at that time. Water temp. must have been low/ mid 60's at that time--  not ideal for either Shark nor Seal. Yet they were there...  both attracted to prey in the warm water...?

 

 

I saw an average of 2- 5 Seals per session at M. all Fall. Getting to be like Chatham/ Monomoy out there! (No coincidence the Striper fishing in Fall there is a shadow of what it once was. Even 7- 10 years ago, pre- Seals there!  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have not seen or heard reports of seals being hit by sharks. Maybe it's the density of animals as compared to the Cape. Historically there have been Great White's close to the beach following squid and other fish. Every season a GW comes up in a dragger tight to the beach or in a pound trap. One thing I did this year was fish around them. Boat or surf. In years past, if I saw a seal I'd find greener pastures. This year I fished the spot and had better luck than anticipated.

Cheers,

Mike

Edited by mikemontauk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As both a yakker and a surf fisherman who primarily hits West End South Shore, I've seen a explosion of seals dating back about 15 years, including inside the bay.  I got surprised to see one in the warm time of the year by the golf course at Lido, it was a sneaky little @#$% and it knew how to "beg".  Some of my co-workers are bridgetenders and have told of frequent seals in Reynold's at all times of the day.  It was getting worse until about 7 years ago, and then started to drop off.  I don't know if it was Irene, Sandy, the poo from Bay Park, or whatever, but it has really dropped off by me.  If it's a guardian angel or a "great white", i'm eternally grateful!! I haven't seen that big male that used to kill the fishing by the WE2 jetty in some time too.  The cormorants have also declined. 
 

 

I'm sorry to hear of what they have to deal with at the Cape.  It was bad here, and so the fishing also sucked.  Now, between the bay getting cleaner, recovering from the storms and whatever, it's better!  I don't keep stripers that much anymore, but I haven't seen or heard of fish being taken with that awful parasite angel-hair worm thing that supposedly came from the seals either...

 

I don't know if he still does it, but there was a prof from Dowling who did regular counting and would post it to some group, anyone looking for numbers could poke around and dig this up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

post-72709-0-53900800-1480369773.jpgpost-72709-0-53900800-1480369773.jpg

 

imho, i think its just a matter if time.  

 

i spend a lot of time out on the cape (truro-p town).  the seal population seems to have leveled off out there, but the gws population is still on the rise and there were a lot more gws/seal "incidents" this past year. 

 

i heard that the cape had become the "new training ground for juvenile gws leaving from S of LI and heading north to learn how to feed on mammals".  i also heard its just a matter of time before the grey seals start spreading S to Montauk year round - and I can't imagine if they are there that the sharks are going to pass up the opportunity.

 

also, having witnesses similar scenes to this one (pic taken this summer off race point beach by another stripers online blogger - see massachussets forum), the seals are not a very good "indicator" of what's in the water hunting them...they seem almost oblivious.  similar to this pic, i witnesses several seals hanging around and watching with a "thank god its not me" sort of response to one of their own getting devowered on another occasion.

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Horse heads all over we2 last few days. Mean lookin seals. Look dangerous. Bis ass head. Saw one a few years ago feeding on herring. The things head was literally as big as a horses head. Was looking at me like I was a large land herring. I left quick.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Seal population has been increasing off Montauk and North to Fishers Island and around Watch Hill for a while now. Usually showing up in the Fall and over the Winter, now there's a permanent seal population at Watch Hill year-round.  Last year I was fishing in my yak off Fishers Island, hooked a keeper-sized striper, and had to reel it in like crazy as a seal made an attempt to pull it off the hook.  I get the fish in the yak and the seal is right next to the yak looking at me with that "hey I want that" look in its eyes.  Waited until it swam off before releasing the fish.  For the past couple of years, the "Elizabeth Morris" (Save the Bay downeaster out of Newport), runs seal watching tours out of Westerly from October until the end of December.  Where there are more seals, we'll be seeing more Great Whites, and less fish. By the way, haven't heard or seen much of "skishing" (Paul Melnyk, et al) since the seal population has expanded.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you were to look at the tracked sharks on Ocearch it seems they don't linger too long anywhere but who's to say a few seals wouldn't hold them in place for a while.

Possibly one reason you we don't see too much carnage on the beach from GWS / Seal encounters is the utter destruction of the carcass. They don't bite and run like bluefish. They eat. What's left is for birds and crabs to work out.  As for water temperatures GRWs can cover a wide range with internal core temperature regulation. Seals I'm not sure about but my guess is they can handle colder easier than warmer ? That may vary with seal species.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pretty easy to suggest that if or when seals start summering over on Long Island in good quantities (not an isolated one here and there) you'll start to see ole' Whitey staying put and takig advantage of this larger prey item. Although Ocearch did ping Mary Lee off Moriches, close to shore in January '15? the water's too cold to have them around for the most part when we do have a good seal abundance. 

Edited by brushfly

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to register here in order to participate.

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.