NEWPORT, RI – The wildly diverse and enduring seal species of Narragansett Bay and beyond take center stage this month at Save The Bay’s Exploration Center and Aquarium in Newport, where more than 140 different creatures native to the Bay reside for visitors to discover. Throughout February, the aquarium, open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and every day during February vacation week and Winterfest (February 12-February 21), will hold special activities centered on Sensational Seals and their adaptations to life in the Bay. The fun doesn’t stop there, however, as our weekend seal tours allow visitors to see the fur-covered mammals resting on rocks, or “hauling out,” and “bottling” in the water by floating with their nose just above the surface.
Narragansett Bay, along with the surrounding islands and other areas, is visited in the winter by several different seal species that may look similar at a glance. Their size and adaptations, however, show the diversity among them. The hooded seal, for instance, might be confused with the commonly seen harbor seal at first, but hooded seals have a strange red “balloon” that inflates from their noses when they try to court females. Also, they are often much bigger than their cousins of the Bay. Many of the hooded seals can reach lengths over 7 feet long and weigh upwards of 900 pounds. The trait that all types of seals share is their layer of “blubber,” a thick covering of fatty skin beneath their fur that naturally insulates them from the cold, even the waters of New England they visit every winter. Even though the water is frigid to us, to the seals it’s actually considered warmer than their chilly, northern habitats.
Visitors won’t see any live seals at the aquarium, but they will be able to join in a range of activities from interactive lessons about the seals’ colorful adaptations to the harsh cold, to anatomy guides and more. Younger visitors can meet with our very own “Sealia the seal,” a life-sized model, for many fun games and lessons held throughout the month of February:
11 a.m. – Seal Story Time
Noon – Critter Feeding
1 p.m. – Scavenger Hunt with Sealia
2 p.m. – Creature Feature: Harbor Seals
3 p.m. – Beach Walk (Weather dependent)
Exploration Center and Aquarium is located in the Easton’s Beach Rotunda at 175 Memorial Blvd. in Newport, R.I. General admission is $8 with discounts for military ID and senior citizens. Save The Bay Members can enjoy FREE admission for 2 adults and 4 children.Get more information about the Exploration Center and Aquarium at savebay.org/aquarium or call 401-324-6020. One-hour seal tours depart from Bowen’s Ferry Landing in Newport on most Saturdays, Sunday, and daily from February 15-21. Seal tours run for $22 general admission, and $17 for Save The Bay Members, seniors and children aged 3-12 years.Get Seal Tour tickets and information at www.savebay.org/seals
About Save The Bay: Founded in 1970, Save The Bay works to protect and improve Narragansett Bay and its watershed through advocacy, education, and restoration efforts. It envisions a fully swimmable, fishable, healthy Narragansett Bay, accessible to everyone and globally recognized as an environmental treasure.