Harp Seal Visits Roosevelt Inlet Today

The harp seal picture that changed my entire day .. photo by Rich Gaudiosi

(February 21, 2015) … Well we had an exciting day today, despite the deep freeze we are experiencing in Delaware.  There are yearly visitors that migrate here, and winter in our waters, no not tourists.  Harp, Harbor and Grey Seals are all over the place and their numbers seem to be increasing yearly.  I headed to Lewes today to visit the Saltwater Fly Anglers of Delaware at the weekly club tie meetings.  I decided to drop by Lewes Beach and get some video for the next episode of Delaware Surf Fishing Outdoors and More.  Our waterways look like the arctic right now.  Of course about five minutes into some killer looking tug boat in the ice footage, the batteries die.  No big deal I have plenty of backups, that I left in the car over night … in zero degree temperatures.  Rechargeable batteries do not like the cold.  So needless to say all of them were dead.  Well I wanted footage and pictures, so it was off to the store. Just before I left the parking lot my phone blows up.  Rich Gaudiosi posted a picture of a Harp Seal on the ice in the Roosevelt Inlet on the DSF Facebook page and sent me a message.  “Dude you need to get to Roosevelt Inlet there is a seal on the ice!”  Now I am kicking myself for the dead batteries but luckily I am already in Lewes.

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Harp seal that visited Roosevelt Inlet

I hit the store and then the Inlet.  By the way I think there will be a story tonight at a dinner table somewhere about the crazed battery shopper, told in broken English or perfect Russian.   I changed the batteries, hit power on, and now the camera won’t zoom!  I am beside myself, I have video gold in front of me and the camera that was just working, is not.  I call Mac Davis, “Where are you?”  We need gear at Roosevelt Inlet STAT!!  He can be here in a half an hour, I don’t know how long this seal will be here.  So now I am in a dilemma, what do I do?  He says to change the batteries (which I had just replaced for like the third time … you ever seen Scanners?)  I tell Mac, pack the gear, head out, I will be here, and then I decide to fix my camera.  By fix I mean bang it on the dashboard of the truck, at this point people are looking at me like I am crazed.  Lo and behold the zoom starts working on the camera, thankfully it is still under warranty, so don’t tell the company.  I mean seriously, how do you fix an electronic device in the field?  Anyway, I called Mac told him it was working,  I would get  some footage, he said to put the rechargeable batteries in my pocket.  I didn’t tell him I bought twenty four batteries.  I found a nice little perch on the rock jetty and sat there for two hours taking great video and talking to everyone who came to see the harp seal.  I had already posted a video to the Facebook page and the word was already out anyway.  I contacted the MERR institute (302.228.5029) to give them a heads up, Suzanne Thurman said they already knew, and were keeping a close eye on him.  This harp seal was literally in their backyard, not thirty feet from the wall laying on the ice, right in front of the parking lot for the Roosevelt Inlet.  It looked perfectly content relaxing on the ice, like it never left the great white north  It was a blast meeting everyone today, my head is spinning from talking to so many people.  A big thanks to everyone for being quiet and respectful of the seals space.  He was perfectly fine sitting on the ice out on the water.  Gregg Rosner said this harp seal was a very healthy looking specimen, and his first harp seal sighting.  He was there helping the MERR institute, keep an eye on everything, and passing out pamphlets to people about the seal and MERR.  Despite the fact this seal was fine, we always contact MERR so they can help keep people away for their own protection, not so much the seal’s.  Yes they look like a little water dog, but you do not want to pet or approach them.  This is also my first harp seal and that is exciting.

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Seal riding pancake ice near the coast guard station at Indian River Inlet … photo by Bryan Thurman

While this harp seal was chilling, literally, on the ice flow in the Lewes Canal today.  Scott Diguardi  called me from White House Beach in Long Neck.  “Rich,there is a seal riding on the ice in front of the house, my camera’s batteries are dead, can you get down here?”  I almost dropped the phone I was laughing so hard, and this harp seal was just looking at me with a sly grin.  This was turning into one heck of nature day.   I asked Scott if he could run (drive) and get batteries, I would even pay for them.  He said he would see what he could do and that the seal was headed towards the Indian River Inlet on the outgoing tide, I might be able to catch him in forty five minutes.  I joked he must be drifting for winter flounder.  I would run to Indian River Inlet in a bit, as soon as I got some more footage, that is right about when the camera alerted me the thirty two Gig memory card … was full.  Now I am tearing the truck apart looking for another card, forgetting there is a sixteen Gig card in the Go Pro in my pocket.  I remembered that one and put it in the camera, you have to realize I never expected to take this much footage, just some cool icy bay and canal shots, maybe some fly tying.  My computer was home, and I usually have it with me, thank you Mr. Murphy!  I stayed at Roosevelt Inlet, and didn’t get a chance to go to Indian River inlet, luckily Bryan Thurman was on duty at the Coast Guard Station, took a cool picture, and sent it to the Facebook page.

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Bald Eagle on the ice on Indian River bay .. photo by Karen Sekcienski

People are dropping by Roosevelt Inlet talking about the harp seal they saw online, or their friend that called them.  Meanwhile others are posting seal pictures that were seen around the bay today and the past few days on the video I put up on the DSF Facebook page.  Karen Sekcienski sent in a killer shot of a bald eagle on the ice in front of Oak Orchard.  She takes a lot of great photos from some of my favorite spots in the Orchard  She had literally just left White House Beach and Masseys Landing taking pictures down there, not knowing there was a seal floating on a pancake ice berg in the bay.  You never know what you will see, or miss around here this time of year.  She didn’t know she had an eagle in that shot until she looked on her computer, it was that far away.  Pictures like that are a real treat when you finally get to look at them.  I am about to go through all this video footage tonight, and get it to Mac for this week’s show.  I am hoping I shot some good footage, it looked great on the camera, but you just never know.  Oh I didn’t have my tripod either that is at the studio.  So the moral to this story is always be prepared and sometimes the right place at the right time can still be total chaos, but totally worth it.  The batteries are on the charger now and the computer will always be at the ready to download full camera cards.  We will have plenty of video in the new show coming up this week, we have some great seal on the beach footage in the latest Delaware Surf Fishing Outdoors and More show on the U tube channel.

Fish On!!
Rich King

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