“The Christmas seals of Sandy Hook.”
That’s what photographer Steven Scanlon dubs the seals in this image from Sandy Hook.
Scanlon captured this scene at 7:34 a.m. today — exactly a year from a similar shot.
“It looks like they’ve returned like clockwork,” he said. “I counted over 80 seals on the island.”
Seals are common visitors to Sandy Hook during the winter, according to a National Park Service guide.
“Seals have a thick blubber layer which, combined with a fur coat, protects them in frigid climates,” the service notes, adding that they “spend most of their lives in the water but come on land to give birth, raise their young and to molt.”
Marine mammals are federally protected. Over the last decade, the seal population has grown dramatically in Sandy Hook, according to the service.
People must stay 100 feet away from seals, who are carnivores with sharp teeth, the service advises.