In October 2008, Cornwall Seal Group were invited to talk at one of the Looe Voluntary Marine Conservation Area meetings by Abby Crosby of Cornwall Wildlife Trust. By December 2008 Abby, at the request of some of the volunteers present, had organised the first seal survey around St George's (Looe) Island...and the rest is history! Weather and sea conditions permitting, monthly seal (and bird) surveys have been carried out ever since. Each survey involves up to 12 volunteers boarding a boat across to Looe (St George's) Island, where they remain for the day until tidal conditions allow for their return to Looe harbour. On arrival, volunteers attend an informal planning meeting for the day before carrying out a bird species count during one complete circumnavigation of the island. After lunch, the two and a half hour seal survey is conducted, either side of low tide, and volunteers rotate around the five survey positions every half an hour. The project has been tremendously successful and an inspiration to all involved, as seal surprises just keep on coming. Below are photos of most of the Island's repeat visitor seals. Click here to find our more about these seal surveys.
Just to get you started...can you work out which seals are in the photos below? Answers at the bottom of the page!
Seal 1 (Left) : Seal 2 (Middle) : Cornwall Seal Group leaflet (Right)
If you are lucky enough to visit St George's Island this year, please remember to pick up one of our 'Grey Seals around St George's Island' leaflets that are available on the island. If you go out on the sea, please observe the Cornwall Marine Code of Conduct and resist the temptation to feed any of the seals you see! Intelligent creatures, seals soon learn where to find an easy meal and quickly learn to associate boats with food. This creates problems for boat owners and seals. To break the link in seals’ minds of boats and food, please don’t feed seals.
To date there are 30 different seals in the St George's Island seal photo ID catalogue and 11 of these seals have been repeat visitors to the area. The two most frequently observed seals are both adult females - Snowdrop and Duchess who have been seen 30 and 24 times respectively. Snowdrop has been the seal observed the longest as she was first identified in May 2008 during an appearance on the Time Team TV programme! Two of the male seals observed around St George's Island have incredibly been seen on the north Cornish coast - Arrow a mature adult male and Wotsit a sub adult male. So far, there have been over 100 different seal identifications, which is very impressive.
For more information about this collaborative research project by Looe Marine Conservation Group volunteers, Cornwall Wildlife Trust and Cornwall Seal Group, please download our reports - below and visit CWT's seal survey page for more information about this ongoing monthly project.
Special thanks to absolutely everyone who has participated in or supported this brilliant voluntary research project.
Answers : Seal 1 is LF1 Snowdrop : Seal 2 is LF6 Pawprint!
Photos taken by Carl, Claire, Derek, Martin and Sue
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