Featured project - Grey Seal Population Monitoring - Cornwall Wildlife Trust
This project has added to the body of knowledge about an increasingly important grey seal colony. South Walney Nature Reserve in Cumbria is the principal haul out site for grey seals in North West England. Since the 1980s seal numbers have increased and since 2015 the reserve has also become an established breeding colony.
Through the Sea-Changers grant, CWT were able to purchase survey and monitoring equipment which allowed them to monitor the seal population more accurately. A lightweight drone is able to fly low over the colony without causing disturbance so the team could monitoring and photograph the seal pups. A rugged tablet helped staff, volunteers and interns to better record seal behaviour during land-based surveys in harsh weather conditions and a gimbal has enabled high quality videos to be made to share with the public.
Data and results from the survey season between August 2021 and March 2022 have added to the body of knowledge that the Trust has been collecting on the seal colony. It has been fed into the annual UK seal census through the Special Committee on Seals and will help to build evidence to support further research on the threats and challenges to the seal population and the possible inclusion within the protected sites.
"The skills I gained through the seal surveys helped me to secure a job as Marine Conservation Officer where I regularly use the data recording skills and survey techniques I developed as an intern”.