UK seal usage of the sea

Anthropogenic activities at sea can affect seal distributions, particularly in the context of area-based conservation of species and in relation to the management of these activities, such as the rapid development of renewable energy extraction. In order to mitigate the effects of offshore activity on marine wildlife it is necessary to map the distribution of species that may be affected.

Marine Scotland commissioned the Sea Mammal Research Unit to produce maps of grey and harbour seal distribution in UK waters. These maps were produced by combining information about the movement patterns of electronically tagged seals with survey counts of seals at haulout sites. The resulting maps show estimates of mean seal usage (seals per 5 km x 5 km grid cell).

The estimation of mean seal usage (and the corresponding uncertainty) is an involved process. The resulting maps should thus be interpreted with care. End users must be aware of both the strengths and limitations of the approach and the output maps, and as such should regard the documents included in the download as essential reading before the maps are used.

Please note that the datasets that can be downloaded from this site have been collected under specific conditions that will affect how they should be used and interpreted. Unless SMRU has entered into a binding contract or agreement to provide advice about how data can be used or interpreted, SMRU takes no responsibility for any consequences resulting directly or indirectly from the use of these data.


Kate Brooks      

Debbie Russell 


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