Seal Research

Have you seen a seal in Boston Harbor?  We want to know about it! 

Your observations will improve our understanding of species, numbers, behavior, and important life history events that may be happening in Boston waters.  Please upload your observations and photos in the form below.

Safe Seal Viewing Guidelines: Always stay 150ft (45m) away from seals. Moving towards the water, lifting their heads up (head alert), barking and yawning are signs that seals are stressed. If you see these behaviors please depart the area slowly.

Dead or Distressed Marine Mammals: If you encounter a dead or distressed marine mammal please contact the New England Aquarium's Marine Rescue Hotline: 617.973.5247.

Seal Sighting

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Project Background and Goals

This project will address a major data gap in the distribution and natural history of harbor (Phoca vitulina concolor) and gray (Halichoerus grypus atlantica) seals in New England’s busiest harbor.  Archaeological records demonstrate that both species were historically distributed along the northeast United States (U.S.) coast. This immediate goals of this project are to describe the spatial and temporal use of the Boston Harbor Islands by both species seals along with generating minimum local population numbers for each species and collecting important life history information. Sightings will also be incorporated into the Marine Animal Identification Network database.

The Principal Investigator for this project is professor Stephanie Wood, UMass Boston/School for the Environment. Stephanie has extensive seal research experience including aerial surveying and image processing, live animal captures and sampling, food habits and observational work. In addition to collecting public sightings data via this page, Stephanie will be conducting monthly boat-based seal surveys of the Boston Harbor Islands. These surveys will start in July 2019 and run through May 2021.

This work is made possible by a generous grant from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust and is being conducted in collaboration with the National Park Service Boston Harbor Islands. All survey work will be conducted under the NMFS/NEFSC (Woods Hole, MA) research permit # 21719. 

For more information on the common species and/or groups working on seals:

Massachusetts Environmental Trust logo with whale tale and water and tree           National Park Service logo with buffalo