Seal population swelling in Gosnold

Seals on Gull Island on the Buzzards Bay side of Robinson’s Hole. —Drew Kinsman

Gull Island, a low islet on the Buzzards Bay end of Robinson’s Hole, has grown heavy with seals. Recent images taken by Vineyard drone photographer Drew Kinsman show scores of seals on the island and in the water near it. Kinsman said he estimated there were a hundred seals. No surprise to Cuttyhunk harbormaster George Isabel, who said Gosnold has seen a “dramatic increase” in seals over the past three or four years.

“The bulk of the seals are loaded up on Gull Island and Pease Ledge just outside the [Cuttyhunk Harbor] breakwater,” he said.

Isabel said seals used to show up in the autumn and depart in the spring, but now they stay year-round. Gull Island, he said, has both harbor seals and grey seals; the latter he described as big animals. Much of Gull Island is submerged at high tide, he said, but the seals just pack the areas that remain above the water.

Isabel said the seals are likely a harbinger of sharks. He pointed to a recent sighting of a white shark near Penikese Island, reported by WCVB.

“Who knows how many sharks might be lurking around here?” he asked. “Just because you see one doesn’t mean there aren’t more you don’t see.”

Isabel’s advice for shark safety: If you’ve learned sharks are known to be in a given area, “don’t go into the water.”