Text Mart Jüssi, www.promare.ee
Photos from project SL 2014 material
Seal investigators mapping haul-outs
Boys are back in town! Just like the street cafes in university cities come alive in autumn with the hum of students so the rocky shallows get filled by ringed seals. arriving from their summer trips. The foraging trips brought the seals hundreds of kilometres away into the open sea and they simply did not have the time to visit the home shore in a ”between meals” period. Now the winter stocks have been lodged as fat under the skin and it is time to slow down for moments of relaxing. Our observation and the smart tags (see lower photo) show that just in September, October the last breathing pause is made before winter and most of the creatures spend time on the rocks enjoying the last caresses of early autumn. When stormy weather arrives it is more comfortable in the protective bosom of the sea.
For researchers, contrary to the ringed seals, early autumn is a very busy period. We catch ringed seals in the Gulf of Finland and observe the idlers in the Sea of Straits in order to understand if this autumn holiday might be another possibility to understand the numbers of their population and its changes. The counting method used up to now – counting ringed seals on the spring ice – becomes steadily more unreliable with the warming of the climate, but considering the many factors that threaten this species the ringed seals must certainly be monitored.