March, while it's still uncrowded, is a good month to see seals sunning themselves off Montauk Point.
The state park at the Montauk Lighthouse is the starting point for a guided or self-guided walk to the seal haulout spot on Block Island Sound. Visitors should head west from the lower parking lot on the north side of Montauk Point.
The walk in Montauk Point State Park follows interesting terrain, including a pebbled beach; then up an incline to a woodsy area, and finally an easy route to a clearly marked trail to the haulout overlook.
The best time to see seals resting on exposed rocks is at low tide. Binoculars, and a camera with a zoom lens, are nice to have. A state parks naturalist on the guided tours will set up a spotter scope for close-up viewing of the seals and seabirds. Looking east toward Block Island on a clear day, visitors might catch sight of a new five-turbine offshore wind farm.
Parks guides advise visitors to remain quiet and to stay on the bluff so as not to scare the seals. Patience is also rewarded; when seals head off for squid or other food they can be below for up to 28 minutes. If they are not around when you arrive, odds are they might be back soon. Dogs should be left at home.
There is a kiosk with lots of information, and viewing shelter with protection from the wind at the haulout spot.
Most Long Island seals will head north when spring comes, so now is a good time to see them.
Guided tours last about an hour and leave from the Montauk Point lower parking lot. Reservations are required by phone, 631-668-5000, extension 220. The cost is $4, kids 3 and under free. The parks staff has asked that participants gather 15 minutes before the walk is scheduled. A parking fee of $8 will be charged on weekends starting April 1.
Saturday, March 18, 9 a.m.
Saturday, March 25, 1 p.m.
Sunday, March 26, 2 p.m.
Saturday, April 8, 1 p.m.
Sunday April 9, 2 p.m.
Saturday, April 22, noon
Sunday, April 23, 1 p.m.