My husband and I received did the seal watch cruise through Project Oceanology the last week of March. It was great! Reservations are required and you have to provide a credit card to book the reservation. You are not charged until the day of. You can cancel with 48 hours notice.
Project Oceanology is actually inside the UCONN Groton campus. The GPS address works fine to get you to the campus and then just look for the signs pointing to Project Oceanology and you'll find the building no problem. After checking in we sat in a cafeteria (it was closed during this time) for a few minutes before the guides for the day came to get us. They took us upstairs for a quick presentation about the seals. It was interactive, interesting and of course cute pictures of the seals! The presentation portion was about 15-20 minutes.
After that we headed on the short walk to the boat. The boat is fairly big, has two sections of seats and tables similar to a ferry but smaller. Since this is an academic program at the college the boat also had lots of lab equipment on it. We did not use any of this equipment but Project Oceanology does have other cruises that let you do hands on research of the ocean. We will certainly be back to try one of those! The ride out to the first seal location is about 20 minutes. During the ride the guides answer questions from the group about the seals, the location, the ocean, the boat - anything really. Very interesting if you have a vocal crowd. Once we're underway you're allowed to walk outside as well. We were lucky to have a fairly warm day for March, but we also dressed warm enough so we could take advantage of being out on the deck.
There are a total of 4 different stops to view seals. The boat does not get very close to them so you need binoculars to see them (they provide binoculars but they aren't the greatest so I would encourage people to bring their own). While everyone is viewing the seals the guides will actually count how many are there for their records (they share this at the end of the cruise on the way back - we saw 88 seals that day!). Most of the seals are just hanging out on the rocks resting and getting some sun but you'll see others swimming, playing or even pushing each other off rocks! The time spent looking at the seals was probably about an hour total.
The ride back is about 20 minutes. They serve hot chocolate on the ride back (nice touch!). The total time for the tour was about 3 hours. It was very interesting and a lot of fun. There were people of all ages on our boat, mostly adults but a few children. I would highly recommend this tour - great way to get out on the water while you're waiting for summer to arrive!
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