Quieting down

While the wind is getting stronger and the temperatures colder, some things seem to be quieting down on the colony. When the field season began almost four weeks ago seals were still coming ashore to give birth and the colony had not yet reached its full size. Since then our study site has become ever more crowded with mums and pups and males waiting for their chance to breed. Inevitably when the beach is at full capacity, fights often break out as individuals compete for what little space there is, males battle it out for access to females and mums do what they can to protect their pups. An important part of our work here involves recording aggression as it happens; while Amy and James focus on fights between males my research concentrates on female aggression, both towards males and towards other females. While we’ve all been kept busy over the past few weeks we have noticed that things are beginning to quiet down. Females are leaving the beach and returning to the sea as their pups are weaned and left to fend for themselves. With more space there are fewer fights between females, and while the beach is far from empty, we expect aggression to continue to decline as the season progresses.

Example of female aggression.

Hard to believe just two weeks left!

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