2013 - Grant Award £1000

Harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) are in decline around the UK. This decline may be due to competition with grey seals, which have increased in Scotland and north east England since the ban on culling and establishment of protected areas. The Thames Estuary and surrounding Kent and Essex coastlines are becoming increasingly important for harbour seals, but the regional population is one of the least understood. During August 2013, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) completed the first comprehensive survey of seals in the Thames estuary using three different survey platforms simultaneously (aerial, boat and land based). This survey methodology will improve coverage, eliminate double-counting of individual seals and increase confidence of the count data. This survey will then act as a baseline for surveys to be repeated on an annual basis during the moult season, so that the health of the harbour seal population can be monitored and the number of seals in this region can be accurately recorded.

The survey was covered by all major news channels and can be viewed through the links below:

BBC News

Sky News

The Guardian


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