A new side of Newport: visit the harbor seals that spend winters in the ‘City by the Sea’

NEWPORT, Rhode Island -- Bet you didn't know the iconic Newport Bridge has secret residents living underneath!

"I go past here all the time, always look at the low tide and never realize there could be seals in there," says Emily Margolis of Glastonbury, a frequent visitor to Rhode Island.

So, head to busy downtown and board a boat, called the Alletta Morris, to get a glimpse of these elusive visitors that make Newport their winter home.

"Today we’re going out on a seal watch tour," says Captain Eric Pfirrmann of Save the Bay. "Most people, even those that live in Rhode Island, aren’t aware that there are seals living right next to them in the wintertime."

As the one-hour trip begins, he shares facts about these sleek mammals. Harbor seals are about five feet long and two hundred pounds.

"Even on a cold day, it’s a great little outing and no one can get too chilly," says Pfirrmann.

Soon, Citing Rock comes into view. This is a good day! About twenty seals are present, some showing off the infamous banana pose as the steel giant, the bridge, looms overhead. The boat stays a safe distance away from the seals - so as not to bother the animals in their natural habitat.

"We have binoculars to get up close and personal," says Pfirrmann.

The seals make quite an impression!

"They’re really cute, laying, sunbathing, resting on the rocks, hauled up," says Margolis.

Female seals will begin to leave this area in early April to head back north to Maine or Canada to give birth to pups. The males and juveniles will follow by the end of the month.

"Winter on the water is fantastic," says Pfirrmann.  "You’re seeing things that you never get a chance to see in the summertime."

Save the Bay is Southern New England's largest environmental organization, dedicated to the protection of Narragansett Bay and surrounding coastal waters.

"Education is a big part of our mission. We see eighteen to twenty thousand school kids a year," says Pfirrmann. "It’s a fantastic way to get kids interested in science and interested in their own backyard."

The boat passes the beautiful Rose Island Lighthouse on the way back to the City by the Sea, a sure bet for daytrip fun.

"You’ve got fantastic places to eat, you’ve got the mansions," says Pfirrmann.

So, dress warmly and visit this summer spot, during the Big Chill! Your eyes will be opened to a new side of Newport. The one-hour tour costs $22.00 for non-members, $17.00 for members, seniors and kids, ages 3 through 12.  Click here for more information about Save the Bay's seal tours.