Near North Kingstown, Rhode Island, seals can be seen lounging at Rome Point along the rock formation called the Seven Sisters, from late Fall to late Spring. Nature lovers, photographers, and families walk along the well-marked and easy path from the John H. Chafee Nature Preserve parking lot off of Route 1A to the beach (map).
Once on the beach, a short ~0.25 mile walk brings visitors to the observation area, where the seals are approximately 300 yards from shore, according to romepointseals.org.
(1) Bring at least a 300mm lens or higher – My 200mm lens wasn’t enough to see the seals very well through the lens. It was only with some zooming and cropping in Lightroom that I was able to produce the above image.
(2) Pack a tripod – At the very least, you’ll want a monopod to steady your camera and get sharper images than what you can do with a handheld. It was really gusty on the day we went out, making it even harder to steady a shot without a mono/tripod.
(3) Bundle up – The Seven Sisters are best viewed from a point on the beach that juts slightly out into the water. It can get windy, so make sure you’re dressed warmly.
(4) Wear sturdy shoes – The terrain is sandy, rocky, and covered in broken shells. The beach walk isn’t difficult, but the terrain is soft in spots. Also, keep in mind that you’ll be on your feet for a while unless you bring a chair.
(5) Snap more than just the seals – One of my favorite photos from our trip to Rome Point wasn’t a seal. It is this seagull who had spent the previous minute or so flying up, dropping this mollusk onto the rocks below, scooping it up, and repeating the process. (Note the cracked shell in the photo.) Once he had opened and eaten that one, he found another and began his exercise again.
(6) Learn more – There were photographers with 600mm and 800mm lenses set up to shoot the seals when we arrived at Rome Point. Don’t be afraid to chat with and learn more about shooting wildlife from fellow photographers while you’re out there.
Check http://romepointseals.org/ for today’s viewing conditions and the recent seal count.