MaxKatt

New Perspective on Seals (Historically they were here)

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Bottom line... today's fisherman has grown accustomed to "the new normal" which was actually abnormal.  The seals were always here historically.

 

Google "New York Times Magazine Fear in the Shallows" for the full story on the resurgence of Great White Sharks in the northeast.

 

Short story... In 1972, President Nixon signed the Marine Mammal Protection Act which set us on course for the return of the seal population we are seeing today.  

 

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New York Times Magazine "Fear in the Shadows"

By C.J. Chivers

Photographs by Tyler Hicks

Oct. 20, 2021
 

The origin story of white sharks gathering in New England is simple enough. In 1972, President Richard M. Nixon signed into law the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Championed by scientists, the act was part of a landmark body of environmental legislation from the 1960s and 1970s — including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act — that reshaped the country’s relationship with natural resources and ushered in protections for ecosystems, wildlife and people. Among its provisions, the act made it illegal in most cases to harm any marine mammal in United States territory and prohibited imports of marine mammals and marine-mammal products, closing a market for harvesters elsewhere.

 

Biologists cheered the protections’ potential to reverse bleak trends. At the time the act became law, many marine-mammal populations had crashed under pressure from market hunting, habitat loss, incidental catches in fishing gear and other threats, and activists were soon to begin emotional campaigns against foreign whaling and sealing industries. Some species, like North Atlantic right whales, were critically endangered. Others endured in other countries but had been extirpated in the United States.

 

Such was the case with gray seals, gregarious carnivores that can reach lengths of 10 feet and weights exceeding 800 pounds. The animals are lumbering on land and graceful at sea, where they can dive deeper than 1,500 feet and stay down an hour, and are highly developed predators, feeding on fish, squid, octopus and, occasionally, seabirds or marine mammals. Their comeback, at first barely discernible, has been astounding. In 1972 there were almost no gray seals in the United States to protect, aside from rare migrants from Canada. Fast-forward 49 years, and gray seals have reclaimed old turf from Maine to Rhode Island.

 

The 1990s marked a curious moment in the rebound. The animals were recovering, but few people had seen one. Watermen were the exception. Nick Muto, who grew up in Orleans, Mass., and is now a commercial fishing captain, had an early fascination. “When I was a kid, it was a big deal to spot a seal at the beach,” he said. “I remember following one for a half mile to get a better look at it.” Matt Gage, a carpenter and luthier, also recalls the first indicators. In the 1990s he was working as a shellfisherman. Each day he ran a skiff with a clam rake and a longboard from Chatham to Monomoy Island, dug bushels of steamers, then covered the shellfish with a burlap sack and carried his board to the island’s ocean side. “There were a few seals around, and we’d go surf with them,” he said. “I was like, ‘Isn’t this great, I am surfing with nature.’” Gage said he would see eight or 10 seals a trip. A few years later, he was surfing among 300.

 

Recent population estimates in northeast American waters range to as many as 50,000 animals. Such figures cohere with what anyone can observe. The eastern side of Monomoy is now often coated with seals, a ribbon of animals lying side by side, thousands in all. Estimates for the total Western Atlantic stock hover near 500,000 animals. Stranded gray seal pups have been documented on Long Island. Adults live year-round at Point Judith, a Rhode Island fishing port, and have established a small haul-out site on Block Island. On Outer Cape Cod, gray seals have reached near ubiquity. They crowd the inlet to Pleasant Bay, rest in piles on sandbars and loiter at the Chatham Fish Pier, attracting tourists who gather to watch them.

 

Where seals concentrate, white sharks often follow. “It’s a whole new ecology,” said Lisa Sette, a biologist with the Center for Coastal Studies, in Provincetown. “Sharks and seals are signs of a healthy ecosystem, and that’s a good thing.” But she acknowledged how disorienting the animals’ return has been for some water users. Not long ago, she said, “the greatest threat on the Cape was ticks. Now we have to rethink how we enter the water, as we have an apex predator that has returned.”

 

 

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1 min ago, AckStriperGuyDD said:

We need a cull.  Seals are out of control.  Bring the population down to 5,000.  That's plenty.

 

It's a fair question if they have rebounded past historic norms.  Conceivably, in the absence of apex predators like the Great White, it's possible.  You would have to see data on historic counts to know if the current count represents an imbalance on the high side.

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6 mins ago, MaxKatt said:

 

It's a fair question if they have rebounded past historic norms.  Conceivably, in the absence of apex predators like the Great White, it's possible.  You would have to see data on historic counts to know if the current count represents an imbalance on the high side.

Man was also an apex predator no longer allowed in the equation...

 

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8 mins ago, AckStriperGuyDD said:

Man was also an apex predator no longer allowed in the equation...

 

 

Man is part of nature, and I've also thought about what nature's response to our creating imbalances would mean for the planet and humans as a species.  

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I support a cull too. Out of hand on the cape. 
been that way for a very long time. Canada is the answer. Make a deal to ship the carcasses to people that can utilize them. Problem solved. 

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59 mins ago, redfin said:

I support a cull too. Out of hand on the cape. 
been that way for a very long time. Canada is the answer. Make a deal to ship the carcasses to people that can utilize them. Problem solved. 

or take carcasses out to sea and let the sharks take care of them.

 

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@mikez2 should be here any minute.

 

Cool post and pictures. I continue to doubt that we'll ever see a cull. We're recreational fishermen. Nobody (with power) cares what you or others have seen on the water. Until it effects deep pockets, nothing will change. 

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16 mins ago, JimmyBean said:

@mikez2 should be here any minute.

 

Cool post and pictures. I continue to doubt that we'll ever see a cull. We're recreational fishermen. Nobody (with power) cares what you or others have seen on the water. Until it effects deep pockets, nothing will change. 

People have had enough.  I know guys who keep a gun on their boat to dispatch seals that follow them out to sea.  Guys on Nantucket take care of business after hours up at Great Point.  Some nights you'd swear it's a shooting range up there!

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50 mins ago, AckStriperGuyDD said:

or take carcasses out to sea and let the sharks take care of them.

 

At this point it's a crisis so I would support any means necessary to kill them off.

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We need the Kardashians, Kayne West and the rest of the hip hop community to start wearing seal boots. Problem solved.

 

 

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5 hours ago, JimmyBean said:

@mikez2 should be here any minute.

 

Cool post and pictures. I continue to doubt that we'll ever see a cull. We're recreational fishermen. Nobody (with power) cares what you or others have seen on the water. Until it effects deep pockets, nothing will change. 

The shame is we could be a voting block if we weren't so lazy.

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2 hours ago, The Riddler said:

We need the Kardashians, Kayne West and the rest of the hip hop community to start wearing seal boots. Problem solved.

 

 

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Rod Stewart blasted by protest group after wearing a sealskin coat |  Celebrity News | Showbiz & TV | Express.co.uk

Mid-length form fitting natural ring sealskin parka. A natural sealskin  look, contrasted at the hem and end-… | Womens fashion winter coats, Inuit  clothing, Fashion

Sealskin Coat, a photo from Newfoundland, Atlantic | TrekEarth

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Rod got bashed by the animal lovers for sporting that jacket.

 

Could make a lot of boots, jackets, and hats with all those seals.. :D

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