Respect Wildlife While Boating

Long Island Sound is home to seals, sea turtles and migrating shore birds and is occasionally visited by dolphins, porpoises and whales. It is important to enjoy wildlife from a distance. It is illegal to touch, feed, disturb, harass, capture or kill marine mammals and sea turtles. Many of these species are vulnerable to crippling or fatal collisions with powerboats and interaction with fishing gear.

How Close is Too Close?

Generally it is best to stay at least 100 yards away from seabirds and marine mammals. If you can see a nest, you are probably too close. If disturbed, an adult may abandon their nest leaving young birds vulnerable to predators or eggs from being kept warm. When eagles detect humans in their space, they fly away from their nests. Their territorial range can be as much as 3,000 feet from the nest location. Please avoid seabird-nesting areas from April to mid-August.

Long Island Sound is also home to four species of seals including Harbor, Harp, Hooded and Grey Seals. Seals have their pups beginning mid-May through June. If seals are on a ledge and appear restless, or they plunge into the water, leaving their pups behind, it means you are too close. If disturbed, seals may leave their young to die. Harassment of a marine mammal is a federal offense. It is best to observe them from a distance.

Loggerhead and Leatherback Sea Turtles may appear in eastern portions of Long Island Sound during the summer. They range in size from three to six feet and can weigh from 300 to 1,600 pounds. These animals move slowly through the water and many of these gentle giants are injured by boat propellers or become entangled in marine debris. Please use caution if you see them.

Boaters are urged to maintain a sharp lookout and use caution around Northern Right Whales. The population of Northern Right Whales is severely depleted and it is illegal to approach within 500 yards of these animals. All sightings of a right whale should be reported to the NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science Center North Atlantic Right Whale Sighting Advisory System or reported to the U.S. Coast Guard via channel 16 or by calling 866-755-6622. When possible, have the date and location of the sighting ready when calling.

Marine Animal Stranding

When marine animals come ashore and become helpless it is called a stranding. A stranding is usually indicative that the animal is ill, weak or lost. It is illegal to touch a stranded animal. Contact the Mystic Aquarium's 24-hour Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Program Hotline at 860-572-5955 ext. 107 to report marine animal strandings along the Connecticut coast.

Tips for Respecting Wildlife
  • Keep your pets away from nesting areas. A dog or cat can destroy bird eggs in a few seconds.
  • When approaching nesting birds, remain quiet and talk in low whispers. Move slowly and deliberately.
  • Do not point — this movement startles wild animals.
  • Nests are difficult to see. When on beaches and dunes, watch where you step.
  • Osprey will often actively defend nesting sites in August and September; move far enough away so they may calm down.
  • Do not leave food scraps for animals — it is harmful to their natural survival and also attracts predators.
Content last updated in January 2022.