Harbour Seals

Harbour Seals

Our early work in the late 1980s 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 30 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. Our core harbour seal photo-ID study at Loch Fleet, which has been running since 2006, along with GPS seal tracking data, is used to assess demographic trends, seal foraging and movement behaviour.

Example studies

Hall, A.J., Hewitt, R.C. & Arso Civil, M. (2020) Determining pregnancy status in harbour seals using progesterone concentrations in blood and blubber. General and Comparative Endocrinology

Cordes, L.S. & Thompson, P.M. (2015) Mark-resight estimates of seasonal variation in harbor seal abundance and site fidelity. Population Ecology, 57: 467-472.