A few weeks ago, we wrote about the Northwest Atlantic Seal Research Consortium, a group of scientists, fishers, and resource managers that focuses on concerns of human and seal interaction in New England.
“We know seals play a role in the system, but it is not well defined,” said Andrea Bogomolni, a research associate at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). “What do they eat, where do they go, how much does fishing take away from what they eat. We don’t know a lot.”
The seal population in New England has grown over the last five years to the point where some fishers complain that they are forced to compete with seals for declining fish populations.
Seals have also been blamed for beach closures due to poor water quality along Cape Cod, but there was little evidence to support this. A recent report found that beaches with more seals are often cleaner.
There are additional concerns about seals and sharks. Great white sharks dine on seals, so increasing seal populations are attracting more and more sharks to New England beaches.
People have been so angry that in 2011, five adult grey seals were found shot to death on Cape Cod. Harassing, or killing marine mammals is a federal crime, but no one was charged in this case.
The Consortium will continue to study the interaction between humans and seals, but funding is limited as more money typically goes to studies focusing on declining populations.
To learn more:
- Read this article from The Boston Globe: Scientists hope to help seals and humans better coexist
- Check out this article about the Consortium: Increase in Seal Population Results in Creation of New Consortium
- And this one from WHOI: Study Looks at Gray Seal Impact on Beach Water Quality
Copyright © 2012 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.