A few weeks ago, the New York Aquarium and Kinsborough Community College went out to count harbor seals in the NYC area. The Staten Island Advance tagged along and found nine seals in mid-March. (Last year, there were 20 seals in the first formal seal count by Aquarium Curator Paul Sieswerda, who says about this year's count, "Likely there are more out fishing at the time we happened to look.")

The seals are drawn to the peaceful isolation of Hoffman and Swinburne islands just off the coast of South Beach, in view of Coney Island Park, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and passing cargo ships destined for one of the country's busiest ports.

Swinburne, which like Hoffman was built in the 1800s to house quarantined immigrants and is now abandoned, is a particular favorite among the seals, which are drawn to its low-lying rock piles, at the perfect height for the animals to climb into and out of the water easily. The islands are part of the Gateway National Recreation Area and are closed to the public.

If you have strong binoculars, the Advance says you "may be able to catch a glimpse of the harbor seals at Swinburne from the South Beach fishing pier." But there is Bernie the seal at New York Aquarium. And even though it's at the Vancouver Zoo, we have to remind everything about the awesome video of sea otters holding hands that NEVER gets old.