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News article created on 21 August 2012

Volunteer seal spotters needed

The Canal & River Trust is on the look-out for volunteers to help monitor seal numbers on the River Tees as part of a study into their behaviour.

We know that seals venture quite far in-shore as they search for food but we don’t know too much more about their behaviour and feeding patterns. Jonathan Hart-Woods

A small team of volunteers is needed to work alongside experts from the Trust and the Industries Nature Conservation Association (INCA). The task is to monitor Grey Seal and Harbour Seal numbers present in the river at the Tees Barrage during the peak migration period for salmon and sea trout.

Volunteers will record the numbers of seals, the species and the feeding behaviour during high tide times, for one hour. The surveys will be carried out from dry land using binoculars where necessary.

The survey on the River Tees follows a similar activity that took place last year and the findings will be used as part of a study into the behaviour and feeding patterns of seals in the barrage area.

Better understanding of seal behaviour

Jonathan Hart-Woods, environment manager for the Trust said: “For many people spotting the bobbing head of a seal in the river is a real joy but this is important work that will give us a much better understanding of seal behaviour in and around the Barrage.

“We know that seals venture quite far in-shore as they search for food but we don’t know too much more about their behaviour and feeding patterns. This monitoring work will help to fill in some of the gaps in our knowledge and give us a fascinating insight into the seals’ lives.

“We’re not asking for any special skills or prior knowledge, we just need people to come to the barrage at set times and observe the behaviour of the seals”.

For details of how to get involved with the seal surveys and for more information about volunteering with the Trust visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/volunteering/opportunities