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Grey Seal Census

grey_seal_censusTraBan.jpg Project Status - Complete
Start Year: 2005
End Year: 2006
Funding Body: National Parks & Wildlife Service

Geographic Area: Ireland
Local Study Area: Ireland

Project Co-Ordinator:
CMRC Contact: Michelle Cronin


Little was known about the current status and breeding distribution of Ireland’s grey seal population. Previous surveys carried out in 1964-65 and the period 1979-1984 have provided useful information but minimum population estimates and site information that were based on insufficient data and are today no longer relevant.

A comprehensive assessment of the Republic of Ireland’s grey seal population was conducted during the 2005 breeding season (August-December), building on the success of ground surveys carried out since 1995 and the 2003 national harbour seal population assessment. Aerial survey using both digital photography and videography and boat based surveys for the site and ground truthing assessments were used.

Currently data analysis is being carried out with assistance in population modelling from the Sea Mammal Research Unit, University of St. Andrews. Raw images generated via aerial photography were processed using appropriate software and a digital database of island/breeding site images is being developed. The total pup production estimate and its corresponding national grey seal population estimate will be subdivided into regional and site-specific figures while the survey programme achieved and its results will be published by NPWS as part of the Irish Wildlife Manual series.