Call to monitor seal activity
Tuesday 28th August 2012
© George Ledger
In the next few weeks, grey seals return to the Northumberland coast to give birth to their pups and, after a few weeks, these pups head off to sea to prepare to live an independent life. However some will turn up on beaches along the coastline as they learn to swim and feed. In circumstances such as this, their mother is usually not too far away.
As this is perfectly normal, Northumberland Wildlife Trust is therefore urging members of the public who spot any young seals basking on the region’s coastline not to panic and to simply leave them alone.
The biggest risk they face is from disturbance, so owners are asked to ensure that any dogs are kept under control and away from any young seals.
The Trust is also asking for help from anyone who may come across a dead seal during a visit to the coast.
As the Atlantic grey seal is a notified feature of the Berwickshire & North Northumberland Coast European Marine Site (EMS), because of the international significance of the Farnes population, it is important that numbers are monitored. There is growing concern over an apparent rise in numbers of deaths, but this has not been formally monitored.
The wildlife charity is therefore working with the Sea Mammal Research Unit at University of St. Andrews, the Berwickshire and North Northumberland Coast European Marine Site (EMS) and the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) to investigate the cause of seal deaths along the coast.
Some are shot off the Northumberland Coast, some are diseased and some are thought to die as a result of injuries caused by contact with ship propellers - some of this can be determined by photographs rather than an expensive autopsy.
Should anybody find a dead seal, it would be really helpful if they could contact Steve Lowe, Head of Conservation at the Trust on 0191 284 6884 (email@example.com) with the exact location and, if possible, a digital photo of the dead animal to help establish the cause of death. Although post-mortem is more accurate, this method will also be valuable and is a cost effective way of monitoring the issue.
Steve Lowe, Head of Conservation at Northumberland Wildlife Trust said:
“This sounds like a particularly grisly project but we think it is an extremely valuable approach that visitors to the coast can help with. The Trust receives random reports of dead seals from the public but we hope this will increase reporting rates and help to establish what factors have the greatest impact upon seal numbers.
Northumberland is lucky to host such an important breeding population of these animals, a feature that attracts many tourists to the area. The county therefore has a huge role to play in conserving this species and it is important that we know what is affecting that in both positive and negative ways”.
Tagged with: Living Seas