A recent fly-over of the Cape Cod beaches caught thousands of seals sunning themselves in the spring sun upon their return to the area. Seals on Cape Cod are not rare, in fact it is a place they call home when the winter winds blow out, but this many seals is a rare sight.
Helicopter pilot, Aaron Knight, sometimes makes a trip of it with family and friends to go check out the seals along the beaches from the air. During a recent trip this Massachusetts native took a video of the seals stretched across the beaches below and he posted it to Facebook. That video has been on the social media site for a little more than a day and it’s had a quarter of a million hits.
According to CBS News on April 14, while the seal population appears to have grown in leaps and bounds it is a resurgence of seals you are seeing. They inhabited the beaches in masses until they were almost hunted to extinction along the Cape’s waters decades ago.
Now that they are a protected species, their numbers are up, too far up for some folks who live and work on the Cape and surrounding areas. The fishermen who utilize these waters for their livelihood say that the seals are eating all the fish.
According to CBS, the seals do eat a lot of fish. An 800-pound male seal “could consume up to six percent of his body weight each day. That’s 50 pounds of fish, including valuable species like cod and flounder.” With the seal population numbering in the thousands, you don’t have to do the math to see these summer residents are competition for the fishermen.
According to the Canada Journal today, Knight said that the video he took of all the seals is causing “quite a stir on social media,” and “raising concerns about the seal population.” It did make headline news today because of the numbers of seals seen on this video, which you can watch above. As you can see on the video the beach goes on for miles and thousands of seals go on for miles too!
Another down side of a massive population of seals off New England’s premier summer vacation grounds is that they are attracting their predators in much larger numbers. Unfortunately the predators going after the seals have been known to go after humans too, the great white shark.
While fatal great white shark attacks are rare, people splashing in the water do resemble a seal in distress, which may offer a target for the great white. Last year folks were urged not to swim near the seals for that reason.
Because food is plentiful, the sharks are becoming plentiful too. Back in 2014 researchers counted 68 great whites in Cape Cod’s coastal waters. In 2015 they counted 140, which means the sharks appeared to have more than doubled.
Before 1972 you were lucky to see a single seal in the waters or on the beaches of the Cape. Then when the Marine Mammal Protection Act went into effect, the hunting abruptly stopped and they were able to grow in number and that brings it up to the masses of seals being spotted today!