Jamaica Bay’s resident seal Ruffles has given birth to a pup in what a local environmentalist believes to be the first instance of seal nativity in the area for “perhaps a hundred years.”
“I think it’s one of those milestones. Great to see we’ve made so much progress in the bay, and it’s really something that we’re seeing from the water quality, the amount of fish life and certainly like big marine life coming into the bay, like the seals. It’s just awesome,” said Dan Mundy Jr., of the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers.
Ruffles, named after the Ruffle Bar, a 143-acre island in the bay where she tends to reside, has been noted by residents for the last couple of years. Groups of seals are usually seen in the winter and early spring out on the islands, but Ruffles is unique in that she’s made the bay her perennial home.
Environmentalists noticed that she became very territorial over the last few months and started to look bigger than unusual — observations that all clicked into place when they recently saw her swimming around with her pup, “Baby Ruffles.”
“She’s got the baby in here and we’ll see where it goes, but I would imagine the baby might stay as well,” Mundy said.
For Mundy, the wildlife landmark makes the case for an environmental bill that has passed the state Legislature twice only to be vetoed by former Gov. Cuomo on both occasions. He estimates that the bay’s deeper areas that were dredged out 50 to 100 years ago have allowed the presence of such large marine life to flourish.
The bill, introduced to the Legislature by state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) and Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Rockaway Park), would ensure any dredged material that enters the body of water meets the federal standard for toxic levels of contamination.
With a new governor, Mundy is hoping that the bill, which passed the Legislature for a third time in June, might have a chance of being signed into law. Addabbo and Pheffer Amato, Mundy said, have conveyed the bill is a priority and expect to have a meeting with Gov. Hochul on the issue sometime in October.