Seacoast Science Center (SSC) has been advancing wildlife conservation through stranded marine mammal response, care, and community outreach in New Hampshire and Northern Massachusetts since 2014. This summer, SSC Marine Mammal Rescue launched a new Seal of Approval eco-label for coastal kayaking and paddle board tour companies.
“We designed the Seal of Approval to give kayakers and paddle boarders a sense of responsibility to protect local wildlife. Our team is working with coastal recreation companies to educate visitors about best practices for viewing marine wildlife, ensuring that distancing guidelines are being followed. When it comes to seals, it’s especially important that we share the shore by keeping at least 150 feet away, and respecting their space.”said Brain Yurasits, SSC Marine Mammal Rescue Community Outreach Manager.
Tour companies must participate in training and commit to bringing an SSC naturalist on tours to qualify for the Seal of Approval eco-label. Earning the eco-label demonstrates a commitment to respectful recreation and wildlife conservation, brings value-added education for participants, and offers an opportunity to contribute to citizen science data collection.
Currently, Plum Island Kayak of Newburyport, MA and Seven Rivers Paddling of Portsmouth, NH hold SSC’s Seal of Approval. According to Ken Taylor, owner of Plum Island Kayak, “Working with Seacoast Science Center has allowed me to really rethink operations. I’ve definitely learned a lot about our local wildlife in the process and how we have a responsibility to protect animals like seals.”
SSC has plans to expand the Seal of Approval to new businesses and individuals in the future. “Our hope is that the Seal of Approval will inspire folks on the seacoast to develop a connection to our local wildlife, and to lead by example while spending time on the water.”
Seacoast Science Center also leads naturalist-guided Wildlife Kayak Tours, launching from Odiorne Point State Park. Beginner and intermediate routes are offered and all equipment is provided. Private group tours are also available.