Thames has the ‘seal of approval’ - ZSL

ZSL’s annual seal population survey highlights Thames’ role as important ecosystem ahead of global summits for environment and nature

It is estimated that the Thames estuary is home to 2,866 grey and 797 harbour seals according to international conservation charity ZSL latest’s seal survey results - showing that the iconic river is a key ecological hotspot for these species.

ZSL (Zoological Society of London) has been monitoring the grey (Halichoerus grypus) and harbour (Phoca vitulina) seals in the Greater Thames Estuary since 2013, and this year’s count revealed an active population:

ZSL’s conservation biologists conducted the survey from water, land and air covering the Greater Thames Estuary coastline and sandbanks between Felixstowe and Deal - the first survey since 2019, due to the pandemic. The census data helps ZSL’s team to understand how well the two important species - which are top predators in the Thames - are doing.

The count was undertaken over several days in August, as this is the moulting season for the harbour seals, when they spend much of their day out of the water and can be easily spotted basking on the estuary’s sandbanks.

ZSL Conservation Biologist Thea Cox, who led this year’s survey, said, “During the 2021 ZSL annual seal survey, we counted 574 harbour seals, and 685 grey seals laying out on the sandbanks along the Thames. When we combine this with the estimated number of seals that remained in the water during our count, our final numbers are 797 harbour seals and 2,866 grey seals.”

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Posted On: 06/09/2021

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