An annual survey organised by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has found that the number of seals in the Greater Thames Estuary has increased from 685 to 938 in the last year. The survey, carried out by conservationists and volunteers, found the number of Grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) to have nearly doubled compared to the previous year, while Harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) numbers have remained reassuringly steady.
The survey covered an impressive 4000km2 from Deal in Kent, to Flexistowe in Suffolk and was carried out over a 3-day period in August, the month Harbour seals haul-out to moult in preparation for winter. With Harbour seal populations in some parts of Scotland having declined by as much as 90%, it is important that the population in the Greater Thames Estuary is monitored.
ZSL have developed a Marine Mammal Map and are hoping people will use it to record any seal sightings and sightings of other marine mammals in the Greater Thames Estuary. This year, seals were spotted near the London Eye and beneath Millennium Bridge. The map can be accessed at www.zsl.org/thames-marine-mammal-map and sightings from any time of the year can be recorded.
Photo credit Richard Spink
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DR PHOEBE CARTER
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