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News and events

News & events

Adult male grey seal with head above water

VCU Rice Rivers Center researcher experiences rare sighting of seal in the James River

August 21, 2020

VCU Rice Rivers Center Fisheries Biologist David Hopler has spent countless hours on the James River near the center. Recently, Hopler saw something that caught his eye - an adult grey seal.

Hopler captured a photo of the seal swimming in the tidal freshwater portion of the James River, 500 yards upriver from the Benjamin Harrison Bridge.  "I've been doing James River water monitoring runs once a week year round for 10 -12 years.  First time I've seen a seal."

It is extremely rare for a seal to make its way to the river, and especially as far inland as where he was sighted.  How far is he away from where his travels normally take him? Hopler states, "He should be in the Gulf of St. Lawrence area between Nova Scotia and Labrador.''

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