Harbour seals

Group of harbour seals in Loch FleetOur early work on harbour seal abundance, diet and foraging behaviour was carried out in response to concerns over the potential impact of seals on Moray Firth salmon fisheries.

This research programme provided opportunities for a range of collaborative studies, including work on contaminants, disease, parasites, and reproductive behaviour, together making this one of the most intensively studied seal populations in the world.

Over the last 10-20 years, harbour seal populations in many parts of Scotland have shown dramatic declines. Current work focuses on developing our individual-based studies to help identify the factors that are driving these changes.

Example studies

Cordes,L.S., Duck, C.D., Mackey, B.L., Hall, A.J. & Thompson, P.M. (2011) Long-term patterns in harbour seal site-use and the consequences for managing protected areas. Animal Conservation, 14: 430–438.

Thompson, P.M., Mackey, B.L., Barton, T.R., Duck, C. & Butler, J.R.A. (2007) Assessing the potential impact of salmon fisheries management on the conservation status of harbour seals in NE Scotland. Animal Conservation, 10: 48-56.