Seal watching - why and how
I used to go out to watch the seals at the weekends, on holidays and after work in the Summer, but I am currently taking a year out to analyse the seal data I already have, to check we understand all the stories it has to tell. I aim to build up a comprehensive picture of the one seal haul out that I visit regularly. I want to become familar with the intricate patterns in the lives of the seals at this location and to gather some basic data in an attempt to begin to explain the patterns and behaviours I observe. A cornerstone of my work is the ability to identify individual seals. Every grey seal has a unique set of fur patterns on its coat, which it keeps for all of its adult life, despite moulting its fur completely on an annual basis. I digiscope and video seals visiting the haul outs, and at home use my laptop, to match the new photos taken with those already in the seal database. It has taken me over 8 years to build up a catalogue of more than 600 different grey seals, against which newly sighted seals can be compared. At last, identifying a proportion of the seals present at any one time has become a regular occurence, so patterns of visits, groupings and behaviours are beginning to emerge.
Many thanks to Simon for creating the Flash animations on this page,
click here to see his photos.