A monthly seal survey in Northern Ireland is co-ordinated by Environment & Heritage Service. The Tara Seal Research Centre contributes to the monthly count and also makes more detailed surveys of certain key breeding and haul-out sites for harbour seals during the summer and autumn months. The following paper was the result of combining the results of these surveys:

  • Wilson, S.C. & Montgomery-Watson, J. 2002. Recent changes in the pattern of harbour seal pupping in Co. Down, north-east Ireland. Ir. Nat. J., 27(3): 89-100.
    Abstract – Surveys of harbour seal pup numbers during the pupping season in the principal pupping areas in Co. Down, north-east Ireland since 1993 have indicated decreasing numbers of pups since 1996 and instability of pupping groups. Since 1995-96, many mother-pup pairs have beenleaving the natal site prematurely, apparently going off to sea taking week-old pups with them. Some entire pupping groups appear to have dispersed about a week after pupping. It is suggested that these phenomena may be related to a paucity of suitable fish prey species available to the seals in the vicinity of pupping sites and also to a relatively poor diet recorded for these seals in recent years.