This is the second year in a row that a young male seal has been spotted swimming, feeding, and sunbathing in Inwood. Locals are smitten with his swimming antics and his adorable face and eyes.
Seal Living In Inwood Since 2018
The seal was first espied in June of 2018 and has been photographed and videotaped fairly regularly after that. Most recently the Gothamist shared a video of him in their headline feed.
The Bronx’s Muscota Marsh is Home To Sealy
At sunset, many residents of Inwood line the banks of the restored wetlands, Muscota Marsh, a brackish inlet off the Hudson that was restored by Columbia University in exchange for building rights for its sports center. According to the NY Times,
“Called Muscota Marsh, the park was built by Columbia University, in collaboration with the parks department, on an acre of land on the Harlem River near the university’s Baker Field. Columbia agreed to create the park as part of the deal to build its new Campbell Sports Center, which opened nearby.” NY Times, January 20th, 2014
Muscota Marsh is just south of historic and beautiful Wave Hill, another vantage point from which you can sometimes see Sealy. The park’s waterway is unusual in that it is both a salt water marsh and fresh water wetlands.
Sealy, The Inwood Seal, Was Previously Rescued
Seals are protected under Federal law, so no one is permitted to get within 150 feet of one unless it is sick or injured, but enough photographs of Sealy have been taken to identify the he wears a tag on his hind fin indicating that he was rescued and rehabilitated once in his life. The tag is from the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, but we could not find out more about what his previous illness or injuries were.
You Can Also View Seals At Orchard Beach, The Bronx
A much better place to seal-watch is Orchard Beach on the east side of the Bronx about 4 miles north of the mouth of the East River. Orchard Beach is the Bronx’s only oceanside park. It was built in the 1930s by Robert Moses and comprises 117 acres. Seals have been spotted at Orchard Beach at all times of the year.
The Pelham Bay Park Center sometimes has free seal watching excursions led by an Urban Parks Ranger. Use the link to open a new tab and see if one is scheduled. They typically occur in late winter/early spring.
Seal Watching In Brooklyn, Staten Island and Long Island
In addition to the Bronx, seals have been known to visit Brooklyn, Staten Island and Long Island. For more on where you can view seals in NYC, use the link provided.
Seals and Dogs Share a Common Ancestor
Seals are classed in a suborder of Carnivora called Caniformia, which means dog like. Dogs, bears, skunks, raccoons, and pandas are all classed in this suborder. Seals, for their part, are grouped as a clade within Caniformia called the Pinnipeds. The clade is split into three families, seals without ear flaps (Family Phocidae), seals with ear flaps (Family Otariidae), and the walrus (Family Odobenidae). Sealy is a seal without ear flaps and is in Family Phocidae.
According to the New York Marine Rescue Center, New York’s only marine mammal and sea turtle rehab facility, there are five kinds of pinnepeds that call NY waterways their home: grey seals, harp seals, harbor seals, ringed seals, and hooded seals.
Sealy is a harbor seal. It should be noted that he is not sick or in need of rehabilitation at this time. It is not uncommon for seals to sometimes be solitary in the wild. According to wildlife officials, Sealy appears to be well fed and has likely taken up residence in Inwood because he has found a good source of food, in this case, fresh fish, possibly herring.
Sealy May Be A Sign That NYC Waterway Quality Has Improved
According to an article published on AM NY, a NYC park ranger, Leanna Rodriguez, is quote as saying:
“I would consider the seal almost as a bioindicator, meaning that it’s an organism that is representing the health of local waters. It means that healthy fish are moving through and they’re thriving.”
How Did Sealy the Seal Get His Name?
Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t find out who’s to blame for this young male’s unimaginative name. Sealy the seal? That’s the best you got? Yet, it appears to be a popular moniker. Seals sighted in Halifax and in Myrtle Beach have also been referred to as Sealy, but it is unlikely that all three are one in the same. If anyone out there knows the origins of ‘Sealy’ will you share it in the comments section?
New Yorkers can be quite creative when it comes to names. "Over the past month, other Inwood residents have spotted the seal. Some have apparently named it "Sealy." #sealytheseal https://t.co/atnzqQemKu
— Greg Jacob (@gregjacob01) August 20, 2018
Help Protect NYC Wildlife
As a reminder, Sealy is protected under Federal law. You may not come within 150 of Sealy, harass, or feed him. Please enjoy this marvel, but responsibly and respectfully.