Common and grey seals are strictly protected top predators in many coastal habitats around the coasts of Scotland and around the island of Ireland. They are, however, affected by several pressures. In this project we focus on the impact of industrial and shipping noise on seal distribution.
We are combining existing and new data on the distribution of seals at sea and shipping activity. This allows us to pinpoint areas of potential conflict where we monitor underwater noise levels and frequencies. This allows our scientists to assess whether and to what extent shipping noise affects how seals use a protected area.
All the data about the distribution of seals and shipping in our experimental areas will then be used to develop a computer model that generalises what we have learnt so we can make informed assumptions about seals and underwater sound distribution for the entire project area without having to research and monitor each site in detail and at great expense.
Both experimental and model results will be important information that feed into our MPA management plan work package.
This work package is led by Marine Scotland Science with contributions from the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute and University College Cork.