Third Annual Long Island Natural History Conference














Harbor seals at Cupsogue Beach – population trends and site fidelity

Arthur H. Kopelman, Ph. D. SUNY Distinguished Service Professor; President, Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island (CRESLI)

The waters of Long Island are home to Harbor Seals (Phoca vitulina concolor), Grey Seals (Halichoerus grypus), Harp seals (Pagophilus groenlandicus), and Hooded Seals (Cystophora cristata). All of these species can be found at Cupsogue Beach from November to May, however, the predominant phocid seal is the harbor seal (98.98%). Our analysis of harbor seal usage of Cupsogue indicates distinctive patterns in monthly use, as well as variations in yearly usage. Disturbances from dredging and harassment may be affecting the use of this site by harbor seals. A review of our ongoing Cupsogue harbor seal photo-identification a catalog of over 70 recognizable seals will also be discussed.

Dr. Artie Kopelman ( is a population ecologist whose research interests, since 1987 include the population dynamics and feeding ecology of fin and humpback whales of New York and New England; and since 1995, the population dynamics of pinniped of NY. Through the use of photo-identification, Dr. Kopelman has been examining the site fidelity of harbor seals at Cupsogue Beach Park in Westhampton Beach, NY, since 2006. He received his Ph.D. in Biology in 1982 from The Graduate School and University Center of CUNY. Dr. Kopelman is a full professor of science in the Department of Science and Mathematics, Fashion Institute of Technology of the State University of NY. Dr. Kopelman is also the president, co-founder, and webmaster of the Coastal Research and Educational Society of Long Island (CRESLI). In May 2010, Dr. Kopelman was appointed a Distinguished Service Professor by the State University of New York Board of Trustees. Distinguished Professorship is the highest honor conferred upon instructional faculty in the State University of New York (SUNY) system.