McConnell's in the Chopper!

Hooded_w_mom_blueback After working on IFAW’s seal campaign for the past several months, today I actually had the rare opportunity to see some seals in their natural habitat. As luck would have it there was room in our helicopter for me to squeeze in the back and head out to the ice floes I’ve written so much about over the past few months. It was pretty much the coolest thing I’ve done in a long time. I headed out with our pilot and seal expert Sheryl Fink to survey the situation in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. My only impression of the place we were about to go was from the many photos IFAW has of seals on the ice. However, this year is very different. All we saw was slushy ice and small pans and my expectations were pretty low for seeing any seals on my trip. But I got really lucky. Sheryl spotted a huge hooded seal with a small blueback pup on an ice pan close in by the Magdelene Islands. There was my seal! She was so much bigger than I expected. This mother sat on the pan with her baby and she snarled at us as we approached. We made our way along the coast, and spotted more and more hooded seals – all in all I think we saw around 100. Global warming is hitting the Gulf pretty hard this year and the ice pans may be too small to land, but I was pretty happy to see this little group of hooded seals from my window in the helicopter.

Katie McConnell is IFAW's Seal Campaign Communications Officer based at the International Headquarters in Cape Cod,MA

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