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Scientist to scrutinise seals’ diet

RESEARCHERS from the University of St Andrews’ Scottish Oceans Institute arrived in Shetland yesterday (Monday) to begin a year-long survey of the Scottish coastline to detail the diet of common seals.

Despite conservation efforts, surveys have shown widespread declines of the species that is also known as harbour seals.

Common seal numbers have declined along the whole of the UK coastline, but most dramatically in Shetland and Orkney waters.

The research team will collect seal-faeces samples which can then be analysed to determine what and how much seals eat.

Leading the research, Lindsay Wilson of the Sea Mammal Research Unit said the research will help to understand the cause for the drop in common seal numbers.

“There have been dramatic declines in the number of harbour seals in Scotland over the last eight years, particularly in Orkney and Shetland.

“This study will result in the first Scotland-wide assessment of harbour seal diet and presents a valuable opportunity to assess diet competition between grey and harbour seals at the same time.”

The project is funded by the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Oceans Institute have over 300 staff who lead the research into Scotland’s oceans, assess the effects of climate change, monitor marine life and advise government policy.

Further information on the common seal study please can be found at: