Hudson River Seal from Maine Calls Upstate Lighthouse Home

Seals are interesting mammals. They are playful and smart. As a fisherman, seals are a hassle and can often ruin a good fishing spot. They are hunters and will travel great distances to find food. Seals love to eat.

Harbor seals can be spotted, especially in the spring time, as far north as the City of Albany. Seals generally live in saltwater. Tell that to ‘Harbor Seal #246.’ When you hear his journey, you’ll think he deserves a better name.

According to multiple news reports, 246 was seen swimming in the Hudson River on New Years Day by kayakers. They spotted the seal somewhere between Malden and the Saugerties Lighthouse. It’s not the first time the seal has been seen in the Hudson around that lighthouse.

In fact, according to an article in the by Patricia R. Doxey “the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the sea mammal seems to have made the waters around Saugerties its home.“It is a story like none we have ever heard of … a marine mammal showing such extended affinity and fidelity to freshwater,” Tom Lake, of the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Hudson River Almanac, said in an email Monday. Lake said the male seal, which authorities believe was abandoned as a pup by its mother, was first discovered shortly after its birth on Lower Goose Island, Harpswell, Maine, on April 28, 2018.”

Roxey’s story continues that 246 was rescued and “brought to the Mystic Aquarium Animal Rescue Program in Connecticut, where it received medical treatment and was tagged before being released at Charlestown, Rhode Island, on Jan. 17, 2019. Satellite tag images show that instead of heading out to the ocean, the seal decided to make its way up the Connecticut River. When it was unable to get past the Holyoke Dam, the seal headed back downriver to the Long Island Sound, and eventually made its way into the Hudson River, ultimately settling in the Esopus Creek on Aug. 21, 2019. For 620 days the seal remained in the creek, Lake said, where it was “faithfully monitored” by Saugerties Lighthouse Keeper Patrick Landewee.”

Roxey explains that 246 left the Esopus this past April short before the harbor seal’s 3rd birthday and was basically missing until the tagged harbor seal was discovered off Long Island’s Atlantic Beach, where, according to Patricia R. Roxey, “it was picked up by the rescue program director at the New York Marine Rescue Center.”

The seal remained at the rescue center for about two months for treatment before being released on August 14, 2021, into Hampton Bays where it was expected to head back to sea. Instead, Lake wrote, the seal embarked on the 210-mile journey back upriver to Saugerties where, on Aug. 25, 2021, Landewe “welcomed him home.”

246 is has made the Saugerties lighthouse his home for now. According to Tom Lake, of the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Hudson River Almanac, the male seal has spent 878 days in the area in its short life. It seems like 246 likes living in Upstate New York. Maybe has earned a name, like Henry or Hudson. That’s for a topic for another day.