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News article created on 23 May 2017

Volunteer seal spotters required - can you help us monitor seals on the River Tees?

We are appealing for volunteers to help with our annual seal survey, from June to October.

River Tees and Tees Barrage

Volunteers will have an important role in helping our experts and the Industries Nature Conservation Association (INCA) to monitor the behaviour and numbers of one of Britain’s best loved animals on the River Tees.

During the series of one hour-surveys at high tide, volunteers will record the numbers of seals spotted and their feeding behaviour. Surveys will be carried out from dry land, using binoculars as necessary. Findings will help to inform a study into the behavior and feeding patterns of seals in the Tees Barrage area.

Zoe Fraser, is coordinating the seal survey for us, she explained: "No experience, special skills or prior knowledge are required to apply for this volunteering role, just plenty of enthusiasm, commitment and of course a keen eye! To get the most from this experience and to help achieve consistent data, we’re looking for volunteers who can offer at least ten hours to help with the surveys and be available at a variety of times - early morning, middle of the day and evening."

She added: "This year we are adding other elements to the survey to support our seal ID program and research. These changes include determining gender, recording the length of time at the surface of the water and mapping where seals are surfacing. Volunteers will be helping support valuable work that will give us a much better understanding of seal behavior in and around the Tees Barrage. This is a great opportunity to get out in the fresh air this summer and learn about these amazing animals."

Jonny Hart-Woods, our Senior Ecologist explained: "This survey is part of a programme of activity we’re undertaking with INCA to help us better understand seal behaviour at the Tees Barrage and how this impacts on fish trying to migrate upstream. The results will give a more accurate picture of what’s happening between the seals and fish at this time of year on this section of the River Tees and inform methods we can trial to encourage fish to follow routes across the Barrage that will reduce opportunities for predation."

Anyone interested in becoming a ‘seal spotter’ will be fully trained.  The first training session will be held on Wednesday 7 June, 2.30pm at the Tees Barrage.  To book your place or find out more, please contact Zoe Fraser via zoe.fraser@canalrivertrust.org.uk