Ladies and Gentlemen: Herewith an early 2014 report on the work of the Seal Action Coalition.
----- To begin, please view the attached early 2014 photo of gray seals occupying Great Point taken by Quint Waters, past president of the Nantucket Anglers' Club. Currently, Great Point is blanketed by gray seals.
New Year's SAC 2014 Update
----- So too is Muskeget which is "ground zero" for the gray seal invasion of Nantucket Sound. SAC Board member Crocker Snow has just returned from the island of which he owns two-thirds. He found gray seals camped out under the front porch of his cabin there. It appears that they are trashing the flora and rare fauna on the island and, quite possibly, polluting its fresh water ponds. The SAC will be publicizing this as soon as teams of researchers from MIT and NOAA (with whom Crocker and I met in late December in Woods Hole) have completed their current respective research missions to the island and reported to us their findings. We are contemplating making a video of the gray seal take-over of Muskeget, being conscious that "what goes on in Muskeget, does not stay in Muskeget!"
----- The SAC has been working with the leadership of the Nantucket Inshore Classic fall fishing tournament and the leadership of the Nantucket Anglers' Club to send a letter to NOAA, signed by the president of the Anglers' Club, asking them to send a delegation to Nantucket in the spring to instruct us on what we legally can do to defend ourselves against the seals who are ruining the Club's fishing tournaments. The letter is in the works.
----- Meanwhile, our resourceful and indefatigable lobbyist, Kraig Siracuse, has been in productive contact with our counterparts in LaJolla, California who are fighting a harbor seal invasion of a beach which had been legally reserved for children. They are potential allies in a bi-coastal tackling of the seal problem. Their battle has recently produced a letter from NOAA (see attachment) that makes clear that the MMPA does not impose a distance (e.g. 150 feet) that humans must concede to the seals. This opens up the possibility of obtaining from NOAA a comparable ruling for our coast which would enable us to reoccupy our beaches provided no harassment took place. The SAC will now energetically pursue this encouraging opening.
----- On the public affairs front, we are in promising contact with Jim Sterba, author of "Nature Wars: The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Have Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds" (if you have not already read the book, you must do so!). The SAC hosted Jim on his visit to Nantucket early last summer. We are encouraging him to write a free-standing article on the gray seals to add to his case studies of white-tail deer, beavers, Canadian geese, et. al. He is interested in doing so. The SAC will do what it can to facilitate it.
----- Our gray seal research fund at the Community Foundation of Nantucket has now reached a size that can make some impact. Of course we want to deploy our funds with the utmost care to get maximum bang for the buck on behalf of the SAC mission. Accordingly, we are conducting our "due diligence". In this cnnection we have recently met with researchers from Woods Hole, from MIT and from NOAA itself, all of whom have different but related interests ranging from economic impact studies to inquiry into the possible spread of the avian flu virus from birds to seals and onwards to humans. We hope to close-in on an inaugural research project shortly.
----- Over New Years, one of the SAC's founders and its Secretary/Treasurer, Big Kenny Kassan, took ill. He is now on-the-mend, but we have had to appoint a new Secretary/Treasurer. Paula Wiggin, prize-winning NAC angler and, with her husband, Harold, a generous SAC supporter, has assumed the post. This means that the SAC has a new mailing address for your contributions! Please send them to Paula Wiggin at 11 Miacomet Avenue, Nantucket, MA 02554 and help us to keep the SAC in clear forward motion in 2014.
Cheers. Happy New Year. Ever onward!