New York's Wintertime Beach Bums

The beaches we leave behind at the end of summer are the winter vacation homes for seals. New Yorkers can look forward to seeing these marine mammals hanging out on local sandy shores from November to May annually. Like many other tourists visiting, they can be seen around the boroughs of New York City and are also known to enjoy the waterfront of Long Island beaches. The best time to see seals is during low tide.


The harbor seal is the most abundant group of seals to frequent New York. They are tan, brown, or grey in color with black spots and, are identified by their ‘V’-shaped nostrils. You can also expect to see grey seals, hooded seals, and harp seals. If you’re really lucky, you might even see a ringed seal.

You can find seals basking in the sun on docks, boating landings, or rocks. Some tips for seal-watching are to bring some binoculars and leave your dog at home due to the fact that seals scare easily. Experts say that seals float on the shoreline, appearing “bottle-like”. If you see something floating in the water in the distance, give it a second look because it might just be a seal. If you are fortunate enough to see one up close, maintain a safe distance. While seals look cute and cuddly, they are still powerful wild animals.

If you are looking for a way to learn more about seals and gain guidance about how to spot them, your local park may be hosting a guided program. Here are some events related to seals occurring at New York State Parks: