University of St Andrews
 
 
Sea Mammal Research Unit
SMRU > About SMRU > Reports

Reports

Scottish Government Reports
Other Reports

Scottish Government Reports

harbour seals on sand

Marine Mammal Scientific Support Research Programme

In 2015 SMRU completed a major strategic marine mammal research project funded by the Scottish Government, with additional support from Scottish National Heritage (SNH), which provides advice to Scottish Ministers and stakeholders across a range of key marine policy areas (the Marine Mammal Scientific Support Research Programme MMSS/001/11). The programme comprised four major themes: Marine renewable energy, harbour seal decline, unexplained seal deaths, and seal and salmon interactions.

A summary of the major findings can be found here.

To complete the research SMRU worked with a number of collaborating organisations, including the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Department for Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS).

The final reports associated with this research programme can be found below. The Executive Summary from each report can be viewed separately and the reports downloaded as PDFs.

__________________________________________________________________

Marine Renewable Energy

windmills on the Thornton Bank

Windmills D1-D4 (Thornton Bank) © Hans Hillewaert / CC-BY-SA-4.0

The focus of this research theme was the possible impact of offshore marine renewable energy developments on marine mammals. Potential interactions between seals and cetaceans and various tidal, wind and wave devices were evaluated. An investigation into suitable mitigation measures was also included. This project recognised the need to progressively improve both marine mammal assessment and monitoring methods as well as management approaches to help minimise any apparent adverse effects.

  • MR1 & 2 Mapping out the current marine renewables research landscape and an assessment of the data gaps with regards to marine mammals

    Current state of knowledge of effects of offshore renewable energy generation devices on marine mammals & research requirements. Update, September 2014

    Report    Summary
     
  • MR 3 Developing methods for tracking the fine scale underwater movements of marine mammals around tidal devices

    Methods for tracking fine scale underwater movements of marine mammals around marine tidal devices

    Report    Summary
     
  • MR 4 Advising regulators and regulatory bodies on specific issues relating to marine renewable energy devices as they arise

    Provision of an advice function to support regulators and appropriate regulatory bodies on matters concerning marine mammals

    Report    Summary
     
  • MR 5 Grey and harbour seal density maps

    Grey and harbour seal density maps

    Report    Summary
     
  • MR 5.1 At-sea usage and activity

    At-sea usage and activity

    Report    Summary
     
  • MR 5.2 Activity classification using state space modelling

    Activity classification using state space modelling

    Report    Summary
     
  • MR 5.4 Inter-haul-out transition rates

    Inter-haul-out transition rates

    Report    Summary
     
  • MR 6.1 Review of methodology and main results of the JCP analysis of cetacean densities in the context of marine renewable development

    Review of methodology and main results of the JCP analysis of cetacean densities in the context of marine renewable development

    Report    Summary
     
  • MR 6.2 Definition of "range" in the context of marine renewable energy development and marine mammal conservation

    Definition of "range" in the context of marine renewable energy development and marine mammal conservation

    Report    Summary
     
  • MR 7.1.1 Quantifying porpoise depth distributions and underwater behaviour in tidal rapids areas

    Quantifying porpoise depth distributions and underwater behaviour in tidal rapids areas

    Report    Summary
     
  • MR 7.1.2 The density and behaviour of marine mammals in tidal rapids

    The density and behaviour of marine mammals in tidal rapids

    Report    Summary
     
  • MR 7.2.1 Collision Risk: a brief review of available information on behaviour of mammals and birds in high tidal energy areas

    Collision Risk: a brief review of available information on behaviour of mammals and birds in high tidal energy area

    Report    Summary
     
  • MR 7.2.2 Collision risk and impact study: Examination of models for estimating the risk of collisions between seals and tidal turbines

    Collision risk and impact study: Examination of models for estimating the risk of collisions between seals and tidal turbines

    Report    Summary
     
  • MR 7.2.3 Collision risk and impact study: Field tests of turbine blade-seal carcass collisions

    Collision risk and impact study: Field tests of turbine blade-seal carcass collisions

    Report    Summary
     
  • MR 8.1 Tests of acoustic signals for aversive sound mitigation with harbour seals

    Tests of acoustic signals for aversive sound mitigation with harbour seals

    Report    Summary
     
  • MR 8.2 Sound Exposure Explorer Tool Manual

    Sound Exposure Explorer Tool Manual

    Report    Summary
     

__________________________________________________________________

Harbour* Seal Decline

*Also known as common

harbour seal

Significant declines in many harbour seal populations on the east and north coasts of Scotland were first identified following aerial surveys carried out in 2006. The numbers of animals hauled out on land during their annual moult in August are counted by the SMRU. The dramatic reduction in the number of animals seen during these counts has caused concern, particularly in Shetland and Orkney where up to 60% of the animals have been lost and in the Firth of Tay where over a 90% decline in numbers has been observed.

This research theme provided an update on the potential causes of the decline and priorities for future research; discussed management and potential mitigation options; determined the diet of Scottish common compared to grey seals (whose populations in Scotland are not declining) and investigated the dynamics of the common seal populations using a modelling and risk assessment approach.

  • CSD 1 Review of the status, trends and potential causes for the decline in abundance of harbour seals around the coast of Scotland

    Review of the status, trends and potential causes for the decline in abundance of harbour seals around the coast of Scotland

    Report    No summary is available
     
  • CSD 1.2 & CSD 2 Workshop report on decline in abundance of harbour seals around the coast of Scotland and discussion of mitigation and management measures

    Workshop report on decline in abundance of harbour seals around the coast of Scotland and discussion of mitigation and management measures

    Report    No summary is available
     
  • CSD 3.1 Improved estimates of digestion correction factors and passage rates for harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) prey

    Improved estimates of digestion correction factors and passage rates for harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) prey

    Report    Summary
     
  • CSD 4 Harbour seal decline: population modelling

    Harbour seal decline: population modelling

    Report    Summary
     
  • CSD 5 Changes in at-sea foraging trips of harbour seals and grey seals in south-east Scotland

    Changes in at-sea foraging trips of harbour seals and grey seals in south-east Scotland

    Report    Summary
     
  • CSD 6 Harbour seal decline workshop II, 24th April, 2014

    Harbour seal decline workshop II, 24th April, 2014

    Report    Summary
     

__________________________________________________________________

Unusual Seal Deaths

spiral seal photo

Significant numbers of harbour seal and some grey seal carcasses showing unusual injuries have been washing ashore at sites around the UK, many along the east coast of Scotland. The carcasses have a characteristic single, smooth-edged cut starting at the head and spiralling around the body. These trauma injuries are not consistent with any previously identified causes of death such as entanglement in fishing nets or boat propeller strikes.

This project set out to identify the mechanism(s) involved in these unexplained seal mortality events; to assess the extent and level of seal mortality due to these mechanisms and the implications for the viability of the local seal populations.

  • Updated USD 1 & USD 6 Current state of knowledge of the extent, causes and population effects of unusual mortality events in Scottish seals

    Current state of knowledge of the extent, causes and population effects of unusual mortality events in Scottish seals

    Report    Summary
     
  • Addendum to Updated USD 1 & 6

    Preliminary report on predation by adult grey seals on grey seal pups as a possible explanation for corkscrew injury patterns seen in the unexplained seal deaths: addendum

    Report    Summary
     
  • USD 2 Testing the hypothetical link between shipping and unexplained seal deaths

    Testing the hypothetical link between shipping and unexplained seal deaths

    Report    Summary
     
  • USD 3 Testing the hypothetical reasons for inappropriate responses to the candidate mechanisms for the unexplained seal deaths

    Testing the hypothetical reasons for inappropriate responses to the candidate mechanisms for the unexplained seal deaths

    Report    Summary
     
  • USD 4 Examining the distribution of observed carcasses to identify biological and oceanographic patterns and distribution of potential causes to assess the patterns of risk associated with these unexplained seal deaths

    Examining the distribution of observed carcasses to identify biological and oceanographic patterns and distribution of potential causes to assess the patterns of risk associated with these unexplained seal deaths

    Report    Summary
     
  • USD 5 Assessing the impact of the observed and estimated levels of mortality on seal populations at a local, national and international level

    Assessing the impact of the observed and estimated levels of mortality on seal populations at a local, national and international level

    Report    Summary
     
  • Significant numbers of harbour seal and some grey seal carcasses showing unusual injuries have been washing ashore at sites around the UK, many along the east coast of Scotland. The carcasses have a characteristic single, smooth-edged cut starting at the head and spiralling around the body. These trauma injuries are not consistent with any previously identified causes of death such as entanglement in fishing nets or boat propeller strikes.

    This project set out to identify the mechanism(s) involved in these unexplained seal mortality events; to assess the extent and level of seal mortality due to these mechanisms and the implications for the viability of the local seal populations.

__________________________________________________________________

Seals and Salmon Interactions

seal taking salmon from net

There is a long history of conflict between salmon fisheries and seals due to highly visible damage to fish or observed depredation (seals removing fish from nets), leading to a widespread belief among fishermen that seals adversely affect both salmon stocks and landings. Until recently, this conflict was often resolved by shooting individual seals. Since 2010, however, shooting has only been allowed in Scotland under licence to protect fish and fishing gear from seals. While non-lethal measures are preferred, these are still not effective in all cases and the option of killing should now be seen as a last resort.

The objectives of this study were therefore to investigate the effectiveness of acoustic deterrent devices (ADDs) and the modification of salmon nets to mitigate the effects of seals on these fisheries; to collect seal carcases for dietary analysis and provide scientific support to the district salmon fishery boards (DSFBs).

  • SSI Seals and wild salmon fisheries

  • Seals and wild salmon fisheries
  • Report    Summary

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Other Reports for Scottish Government

Seal Haul-out Site Designation

Scottish legislation requires the designation of key seal haul-out sites in Scotland, at which seals are protected from intentional or reckless harassment. SMRU was tasked by the Scottish Government to develop a method for selecting these key sites. The following report describes the process used to identify and select designated seal haul-out sites using SMRU aerial survey data.

Older reports


 

 


 
 
12/11/2015
admin