By Roger Williams Park Zoo, Education Department
Winter is just around the corner and it’s time for the Pinnipeds! Pinniped is a word from the Latin language meaning fin-foot, Pinna means fin and ped means foot. Seals are a type of pinniped because their feet are in the shape of a fin to help them swim in the water. Have kids pretend to be a seal by using construction paper to create fins for your hands and feet. Have them lie on the ground and pretend to swim through the water with their new fins. When a seal wants to “haul out” of the water they swim up to the land and squirm their body onto a rock. They arch their body into the shape of a banana to warm themselves in the sun. Have the kids pretend to make a banana shape with their body like the seal in the picture.
The most common seals in Narragansett Bay are the Harbor seal, the Gray seal, the Harp seal, and the Hooded seal. The best time of year to see them is from December — April when they migrate South from Maine and Canada. The seals follow fish that migrate South to find warmer water here in Narragansett Bay.
When I was a child my family would go to Galilee in Narragansett for some clam cakes and chowder at Champlin’s. We would sit along the rocks and look for seals swimming in and out of the harbor. We would look to see them stick their nose out of the water for air, but we would never try to feed them, or disturb them if they were out of the water. It’s important for seals not to approach humans especially if you are in a boat, and seals that are relaxing on rocks need to save their energy to find food. The best way to look at them is with a pair of binoculars.
If you really want to see seals close up, without disturbing them, you have to take a seal tour with Save the Bay! Not only do you see lots of seals, but the guides teach you all about seals and why they are important to us and the bay. Check out Save the Bay’s web page for tour and seal information.Â See you out there!!
Another idea to help you engage your kids in the wonders of nature all around us, from Roger Williams Park Zoo’s awarding winning education department. 1000 Elmwood Avenue, Providence, RI
Photo Credit: Roger Williams Park Zoo