Anmeldung

Dt. Version

Home Imprint

 

Swim-with-seal programs (2014-2015): research and management

Foto












As a segment of the global whale watching market, seals are regularly encountered by humans. In contrast to whales and dolphins, seals are vulnerable to anthropogenic impacts at terrestrial haul-out sites and in their aquatic home ranges.


Foto


Click ...here... to see an in-water encounter of a
grey seal with a human swimmer from underwater
(.mov file with 13.4 MB)



Foto


Click ...here... to see an in-water encounter of a
grey seal with a human swimmer from underwater
(.mov file with 12.5 MB)


Foto



There is a unique haul-out, mating and breeding site on beaches of the North Sea island Helgoland where harbour and grey seals can be found year-round. Especially in the summer months, seals are attracted by human bathers and there is a growing concern about the potential negative impacts for both sides. This study is aimed to investigate human-seal in-water encounters and to search for appropriate management measures.


Foto

Click ...here... to see an in-water encounter of a
grey seal with a human swimmer from underwater
(.mov file with 3.8 MB)


Foto

Click ...here... to see an in-water encounter of a
grey seal with a human swimmer from underwater
(.mov file with 10.9 MB)


Foto

Click ...here... to see an in-water encounter of a
grey seal with a human swimmer at the
water surface (.mov file with 10.1 MB)



Foto











Seals self-initiate a variety of interactive behaviors during in-water encounters with human swimmers. These are ranging from simple curious approaches to direct body contacts. While most behaviors are explorative and apparantly affiliative, during some encounters risky behaviors (e.g. mouth grabs) have been reported as well. Aims of this study are to qualify and quantify selected risky and non-risky behaviors of seals displayed in response to human bathers and to provide a risk assessment.



Foto


Click ...here... to see an in-water encounter of
seals with a human swimmer (.mov file with 14.3 MB)


Foto



Click ...here... to see an in-water encounter of
seals with a human swimmer (.mov file with 7.9 MB)


Foto


Click ...here... to see an in-water encounter of
seals with a human swimmer (.mov file with 6.4 MB)


Foto




Though beach use has been separated by implemented (non-) bathing zones and these are permanently monitored by bath attendants, it is often the case that seals themselves initiate close contacts within the bathing zone. As most bathers have no previous experience with seals during swims, there is a huge potential for affiliative but also risky interactions.