A harbor seal pokes its mottled head out of the water, soulful eyes visible above a bristly mustache, before diving back down to snatch fish from the net being winched aboard the trawler.
“Gettin’ a free meal,” Captain Tom Puckett remarks with a shake of his head.
As the otter trawl net is hoisted up on the A-frame across the boat’s stern, it’s clear that it’s nowhere close to full. But it doesn’t matter. The Cap’n Bert is not a commercial fishing trawler. It’s a research vessel owned and operated by the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography.
The 53-foot stern trawler is out on Narragansett Bay on this winter day carrying out its weekly ritual of testing the water temperature and other indicators and taking samples of marine life.
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