"Look at them, they're like bags of meat. They're huge."

That's Paul L. Sieswerda, the curator of the New York Aquarium, talking about the packs of seals (schools of seals? passels of seals?) that have been coming down to "winter" on Hoffman and Swinburne Islands in NY Harbor (Forgotton-NY has the story on the islands).

The big guys were first noticed back in the harbor in 2001 after decades of absence. Since then the they've been coming back each year in increasing numbers and seem to not mind, even enjoy a little, the hustle and bustle of our busy harbor. So many are coming down now that scientists want to know exactly what New York's seal population is. In order to do so, New York City this year got it's own section of the annual seal count that the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation organizes.

And for you money-grubbers, don't worry, seal tourism is already being discussed. Apparently a boat operator has been contacted for "Cape-Cod-style seal-watching cruises." We guess that'd be fine, but we're still more excited about the mini-NY-Harbor-Aquarium that folks were talking about putting down on Chambers Street.

Photograph from crasian's flickr stream.