On December 4, a Save The Bay education vessel will depart from Bowen’s Ferry Landing in Newport Harbor, marking the organization’s 21st season of Seal Tours in the “City by the Sea.”

Between December and April, the environmental nonprofit organization will run two types of tours around the harbor: a one-hour, boat-based seal tour, and a two-hour cruise including a stop at the Rose Island lighthouse grounds. These one-of-a-kind excursions offer passengers of all ages the opportunity to experience the beauty of Newport Harbor, catch spectacular views of the Claiborne Pell Bridge, learn the history of the harbor, and spot Rhode Island’s state marine mammal, the harbor seal, in its natural environment. Tours will be held on weekends and public school holidays and vacation days December 2021-April 2022.

“Harbor seals are the most common marine mammal in New England,” said Save The Bay Captain Eric Pfirrmann in a statement. “At one time, their population was in steady decline due to human activities, but the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 helped reverse the trend. Following the guidelines of the MMPA, we make sure that our tours stay at a safe distance so that we don’t disrupt these amazing animals, but we do provide guests with binoculars so they can see the seals in perfect detail!”

“While we do see different seal species in Narragansett Bay, we can identify a harbor seal because they are roughly human-sized, with a cute ‘puppy-dog’ face. We usually spot them resting ‘hauled out’ on rocks or in a ‘bottling’ position, where they float upright like a glass bottle.” 

For over two decades, Save The Bay has offered Seal Tours and Nature Cruises during the region’s cooler months when harbor seals migrate south into local waters following their food supply. Save The Bay’s education vessels allow guests to observe winter seals and other wildlife in their natural habitat, all while benefiting the nonprofit’s mission to protect and improve Narragansett Bay.

Save The Bay’s one-hour Seal Tours run most weekends and during school vacations. Ticket prices are: $22 per adult; $17 for Save The Bay members, seniors, and children ages 3-12; and children under 3 years of age are free. The two-hour Seal and Rose Island Tours run one or two times a month and ticket prices are: $55 per adult; $45 for Save The Bay members, seniors, and children ages 3-12; and children under 3 years of age are free. Tour schedules, tickets, gift certificates and more information are available by calling 401-203-SEAL(7325) or visiting savebay.org/seals.

Save The Bay will offer outdoor tours when Rhode Island’s COVID-19 state positivity rate is at or below five percent. Reservations are strongly recommended, and passengers must verbally attest to a COVID-19 screening prior to boarding. Per Center for Disease Control and Rhode Island Department of Health guidelines, masks are not required for vaccinated individuals but are highly recommended for unvaccinated individuals. A complete overview of Save The Bay’s Seal Tour COVID-19 policies can be found at savebay.org/seals.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What's Up Newp. He was born and raised in Rhode Island and graduated from Coventry High School. He serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors for Potter League for Animals. Ryan also is currently the Senior Editor - North America for Mountain News, publisher of OnTheSnow. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).