Find the unmarked road off the highway. Turn down the dirt path. Park in the sand and hope you can get out later. Follow the sandy trail out onto the dunes, about a mile to the beach. Walk north along the beach past the small dead Sand Sharks being devoured by gulls. Walk on until you see a sand bar up ahead. Those are not big brown logs lying on the sand. Those are seals. Hundreds of seals. Big, fat male Gray Seals surrounded by their smaller mates and cute little pups. Smaller, sleeker Harbor Seals sliding in between. Are those little faces popping out of the surf, their big black eyes spying on you? Hear them calling out to one another, barking like fat, happy dogs. Is that their breath, like rotten herring in the air?
Seals are back on the Cape in large numbers now after years of decline. This is a good sign, meaning the sea is coming back to life, once again full of the herring and cod that once supported a large fishing economy. People used to complain that the seals consumed too many of these valuable fish but it is more likely that overfishing lead to the decline in both fish and seals. Now some people worry that the fish are attracting sharks to the area’s beaches but sharks, like the Great White, are endangered, too. Not that I’d want to encounter one while swimming, but aren’t we the ones who aren’t native here?