Fourteen Herald Community Newspaper executives, editors and reporters bundled up in heavy coats and woolen hats and boarded the Capt. Lou VII in Freeport to take a two-hour tour of the waterways south of the village in search of harbor seals last Friday.
Herald Publishers Clifford and Stuart Richner sponsored the trip as a way to build editorial department camaraderie and familiarize staffers with the South Shoreâ€™s natural habitat. The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation offers the â€śseal toursâ€ť at this time of year to raise funds for the foundation and awareness of the ecological importance of Long Islandâ€™s wetlands. Harbor seals migrate from the waters off Maine to the Islandâ€™s bays and coves in winter.
With the temperature hovering at around 35 degrees and a stiff wind blowing, Herald staffers spotted an estimated 40 harbor seals floating and splashing in the channel north of Jones Beach.
The Riverhead Foundation is a nonprofit animal rescue group based in Riverhead and chartered under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. Seal tours run from January through mid-April. A naturalist or biologist is on board the Capt. Lou VII for each tour. For upcoming tour dates, go to riverheadfoundation.org. Tours depart at 1 p.m. Group rates apply. The Capt. Lou VII has a heated cabin where light snacks are available for purchase. For reservations, call (631) 369-9840.