Seals, Shipwrecks, & Cuttyhunk Island

I have emerged from another virus induced winter hibernation (which explains the lack of posts lately). So what do I do as my first foray into the outside world? I decide to freeze my butt off for photographic purposes by boarding the Cuttyhunk Island Ferry in New Bedford, Massachusetts and sailing out in search of seals.

Cormorants on the rocks and Eider Ducks off to the left. It was gray when we left but the sun soon came out.

The Cuttyhunk Island Ferry Company offers a couple of special seal cruises each winter.  The cruise takes you out to where the seals congregate at low tide between Cuttyhunk Island and Penikese Island. Both islands are part of the Elizabeth Islands, a small chain of islands that extends southwest from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Cuttyhunk may be the first site of an English settlement in New England. In 1602 a sassafras collection outpost briefly existed here.

Out on the water. Cuttyhunk Island the left and Penikese Island to the right. Cuttyhunk Island is the only accessible island in the chain. The rest are privately owned by the Forbes family.

Harbor seals and Gray Seals are endemic to the islands, though Harp and Hooded Seals have been known to make appearances in this area during the winter. We also passed flotillas of Eider ducks, Long-tailed Ducks, Black Guillemots, Buffleheads, Common Mergansers, and flocks of Herring Gulls.

Approaching the seals. Common Mergansers burst into flight. These are mostly gray seals here. The males are larger and darker in coloration.

Gray seals. 

Gray seals.

Harbor seals.

Herring gulls taking flight.

This was a really pleasant trip. While it was very cold out on the water (water temps were around 36 degrees Fahrenheit), once on Cuttyhunk Island, it was sunny and warm enough to really enjoy exploring a beach lined with the decaying corpses of old weirs and shipwrecks. I also found vertebrae from some sort of cetacean and possible a seal. Coyote do predate seals here on the islands. Other travelers reported seeing deer in the middle of the island.

I was also testing the new Nikon 200-500mm lens. I have to say it performed very well onboard a moving and swaying boat.

Wandering the rocky shores of Cuttyhunk Island.

Wandering toward several wrecked ships.

The skeletal remains of a ship. The metal ribs look almost whale like as you walk by them, though here, they look more insect like.

This might be a seal vertebra, possibly from the tail.

Probably a dolphin cervical vertebra.

Back in New Bedford Harbor.