A Sunday Walk in the Park

A walk all around Cupsogue Beach County Park to be more precise. A dozen of us turned up in Westhampton Beach last Sunday morning for a real interesting & educational off-water event. Let me first give a big thanks to Troy here for putting this seal walk together for us. Was a great chance to see a great (& growing) number of the visiting seals who make Long Island their home every November thru April.

Cupsogue (59)

It was a cloudy & chilly start around 10am as we listened to Dr.Kopelman, the rep from CRESLI give us a background presentation about the characteristics & origins of the different types of pinnipeds (seals) we would soon be viewing. There were interesting little factoids like how bears (of all things) are closely related to seals, having diverged from a common ancestor like 20 MILLION years ago.

Most important takeaway from the whole outing was reinforcing what many of us sea kayakers already know with regards to our interactions with these clawed & sharp-toothed aquatic predators. Which is basically don’t interact with them at all. Don’t feed them & most importantly don’t approach them too closely, especially if they are hauled out & resting. While they can actually sleep in the water (vertically with nose sticking above surface) they really need their 6-8hrs a day of haul out time ashore at low tide. Getting too close can stress them out, and eventually cause them to leave their preferred basking sites if disturbed too often. Some of the group (of the 114) we saw on Sunday have been documented as coming back every year since way back in ’06.

And this group sure was taking their Sunday sleeping-in seriously. The steady, land-based pics I was able to get were WAY better than from any of  my kayaking seal trips & as you can see, not much movement going on at all among all these beached blubberballs.

BTW, it’s not necessary to arrange a guided tour as we did. Anyone is welcome & can go on their own anytime to see the seals @Cupsogue. Only folks going in large groups need to make arrangements in advance.

After we had had our fill of seal watching (I mean c’mon, even I can only take so many pictures !) & since those early clouds had started clearing away to begin to reveal a glorious, blue-skied, sunny day, the group decided to trek westward on the off-road vehicle trail over towards the inlet.Cupsogue walk

Was a nice walk. Was interesting too as we could see exactly where five of us had recently paddled just a few weeks ago on that frozen President’s Day trip. Totally different vantage point from shore & also the low tide changed the whole look of the place. I had no idea the large sea ice formation we had paddled around then was actually right on top of the seals’ annual haul-out sandbar spot .

-We continued hiking all the way to the inlet jetty, watched as some of the last outgoing tide met the incoming waves & we then headed south all way to the ocean before turning and walking the shoreline back to our cars.


Was like 2-1/2 miles total. & practically nobody/nothing around except some seagulls & two lone surfers in the water (& folks think we’re crazy!!) Back at the parking lot some of us said our goodbyes while the rest decided to stay together & grab some lunch in the neighborhood.

In closing, let me just say though this was one of the few weekends so far that I haven’t had a paddle in hand, the incredible wildlife viewing was well worth the trade off. I highly recommend driving the extra miles out to Cupsogue as opposed to Jones Beach if you are really interested in seeing some seals. At Field 10 you’ll just see them in the water, maybe heads popping up & around in the channel but unless you are a winter paddler stealthily patrolling the marshes you just won’t see them beached in ‘all their glory’ like we did here the other day.

Cupsogue (32)


4 responses to “A Sunday Walk in the Park”

  1. I’ll have to try and get there (on land) next winter. Great photos and thanks for the writeup!

  2. Nicely done article and photos. Thanks Alan.
    Thanks also to the NACK and LIP club members who came out for this event, some as far as Queens. Hope you really enjoyed it.

  3. Sorry Goldene and i missed the walk hopefully we can get out there one weekend soon. Thanks for the article and pix