- Corpe, H.M. & Wilson, S.C. 1996. The movements and diving locations of weaned pups of the harbour seal (Phoca vitulina vitulina) from Dundrum Bay, Co. Down. In An investigation of the status quo of the harbour seals of Co. Down, Northern Ireland. Final report by S.C. Wilson and H. Corpe to the Environment & Heritage Service, May, 1996.
Abstract – Five harbour seal pups were caught towards the end of the lactation period at their natal haul-out site at Minerstown, Dundrum Bay, and were dye-marked, flipper-tagged and fitted with head-mounted VHF radio tags. The pups were tracked from vantage points along the Co. Down coast for the next three months.
During the first three weeks of the study the majority of diving locations were within the area immediately surrounding the Minerstown haul-out site. Over the following weeks the pups gradually dispersed to foraging sites which ranged from inside Carlingford Lough in the south as far as the entrance to Strangford Lough in the north. None of the pups were located inside Strangford Lough.
There was considerable individual variation in the use of the Co. Down coastal area. One pup was always located in Dundrum Bay, one spent a few weeks between the mouth of Strangford Lough and Dundrum Bay and then moved to the south of Dundrum Bay, one moved between Dundrum Bay and the southern Mourne coast and one stayed in Carlingford Lough for a month and then moved to the southern Mourne coast. The fifth pup was sometimes located in Dundrum Bay, but apparently made excursions out of the study area and eventually disappeared altogether after September 13th.
The results of the study clearly demonstrated that the majority of the pups tagged in Dundrum Bay remained in the Co. Down coastal area, at least for the first three months after weaning.
The following article is in preparation:
- Wilson, S.C., Corpe, H.M., Bryant, E.B. & Ijichi, D.E.S. A VHF telemetry study of post-weaning and rehabilitated pups of the harbour seal, Phoca vitulina vitulina.
Abstract – five pups of the harbour seal, Phoca vitulina vitulina, were radio-tagged at the end of the lactation period (late July and early August) at their natal haul-out site at Minerstown, Dundrum Bay, north-east Ireland. The pups were tracked from vantage points along the Co. Down coast for the next three months. Additionally, ten rehabilitated pups were radio-tagged and tracked after release. Eight of these pups were taken in as neonates and released in mid-August after 30-47 days rehabilitation and two were post-weaning and released after 20 days in early September.
During the first three weeks of tracking the wild pups, the majority of diving locations were within the area immediately surrounding the haul-out site where they were tagged. Over the following weeks the pups gradually dispersed to foraging areas approximately 20 km to the north and 50 km to the south.
Most of the rehabilitated pups spent several days or a few weeks close to a haul-out site frequented by seals during the moulting period (late August and early September), before eventually dispersing. The distribution of the rehabilitated pups was similar to the wild pups. It appeared that the timing of the rehabilitated pups' release to approximate the natural post-weaning period in the wild was successful in terms of the pups' survival and development of natural behaviour.