I wandered down to Long Beach Island today. I went to try and see a Hooded Crow, a bird not usually found in New Jersey. In fact, it is a bird not usually found in North America. I did not see it, although others did, before and after I searched. Bummer.
I did get to see this gal. I'm told that it is a female Hooded Seal. But it doesn't look like any of the pictures in my field guides nor those I found on the web. Curious. Update 8/16: I've been told through email correspondence that she has been identified as a Gray Seal by the Marine Mammal Stranding Center. But, and my correspondent, still have our doubts. We both think that it is a Harbor Seal.
Whatever species, she had no problem with people. She seemed to be posing, as if she had escaped from SeaWorld or some such, and often maneuvered to be closer to the crowd. In turn prompting the lifeguards to move us back. I wondered if she was thinking, "Hey, I'm doing my routine here! I expect some fish!"
She would occasionally head into the surf but after a quick splash around would lumber back up onto the beach.
I was also told that folks from the local Marine Mammal Stranding Center had visited to check her out and had pronounced her fit. So I guess, like us, she just wanted to work on her tan and splash about in the waves.