As Amy has said, after 5 weeks on North Rona (http://synergy.st-andrews.ac.uk/sealsonrona) I have found my way back to familiar territory for another season of behavioural observations on the male grey seals. It’s great to be back, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season!
Fortunately I’m not the only one to return this year – we’ve already seen more than 30 returning seals that we saw last year in the study areas, so it’ll be interesting to see how they all fare this year, and how they behave around the ‘new’ males. Although I have clearly become too fond of sitting in a cold box for 9 hours a day, on Sunday I escaped from the observation hide to take a walk along the colony. Aside from just stretching my legs, this was to conduct the first of my weekly photo surveys, during which I will be trying to take photos of as many of the adult females as possible.
These photos capture the unique, stable markings on their coats, which act as a kind of ID card that we can use to identify individuals. The photos will be added to the photo-ID database of our collaborators at the Sea Mammal Research Unit, which can then be used to track the locations and breeding activity of individuals between breeding seasons. One individual that I’d be surprised to see again, however, is this wee guy – a harbour seal yearling that seems to have come to hang out with the new pups!