Our next few days were largely devoted to building, piecing together and testing our research equipment. This included fabricating pockets from ballistic nylon that we will use to attach our heart rate monitors and accelerometers to the seals.
The aim of this work is to use the heart rate monitors and accelerometers to investigate how individuals differ in their stress responses to naturally occurring stressful situations; such as aggressive interactions with their neighbours. We hope to uncover insights into why individuals differ so much in their behavioural reactions to stressful situations, and to provide baseline measures of just how stressful a breeding season is for a female grey seal! This will be of use in other situations, where there may be increasing proximity of seals and people – with our data we will be able to ask whether human interactions with seals are actually any more stressful than what they experience in their undisturbed, natural settings.