The secrets of the Solent seal population have been revealed by a new aerial survey by the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, with the support of staff and berth holders at Dean & Reddyhoff’s Haslar Marina.
The survey found that a minimum of 49 harbour seals, including 11 pups and 7 grey seals, are currently resident in the Solent. The areas surveyed were Langstone Harbour, Chichester Harbour, Portsmouth Harbour, Ryde sand banks, Beaulieu and Newtown Creek.
Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust has been counting the seal population since 1994, when just 3 harbour seals were recorded. The survey takes place each August, when the seals moult and spend more time ashore.
Haslar Marina Manager Ben Lippiett said “Our berth holders have enjoyed seeing seals around the Solent this year, and we are delighted to have been able to help the Wildlife Trust with this important conservation work. This is the start of an ongoing relationship for Dean & Reddyhoff, as we work with our local Wildlife Trusts on environmental projects from citizen science projects to beach cleans and promoting sensitive boating.”
Rayner Piper, Secrets of the Solent Project Manager at Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust said: “Our huge thanks to marina operator Dean & Reddyhoff for helping make the survey happen and to pilot Steve Tyas. We now know that our Solent seals seem to be slowly increasing in numbers, which is great news as elsewhere in the UK, harbour seal populations are in steep decline. We’re looking forward to next year’s survey, which we hope will show more population growth.”
The survey was made possible thanks to fundraising by Haslar Marina berth holders and staff, which paid for the flight and sourced the plane and pilot. In addition, over £1000 was made available to the Trust for further local wildlife and environmental work.
Every year Dean & Reddyhoff staff and customers raise thousands of pounds for local charities at the ever-popular berth holders’ summer parties and through activities like our Big Green Bike Ride.
· Dean & Reddyhoff Ltd own and operate marinas at Haslar in Portsmouth Harbour, East Cowes on the Isle of Wight, Portland and Weymouth in Dorset and Deacons Marina on the river Hamble. Dean & Reddyhoff www.deanreddyhoff.co.uk
· Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust strives to create a better future for wildlife and wild places in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. We’re the leading wildlife charity in the two counties and with the support of our 26,000 members we’re taking effective action to protect our natural heritage. We’re also part of a UK-wide partnership of 47 Wildlife Trusts; together we are the nation’s most active and influential nature conservation partnership protecting wildlife in every part of the UK. www.hiwwt.org.uk
· The Solent harbour seal population is one of the least understood in the country, despite annual surveys and the gathering of ecological data through a previous telemetry study undertaken by HIWWT in collaboration with Chichester Harbour Authority and the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU). HIWWT will continue to focus on gathering data on the Solent’s harbour seal population to inform the conservation and management of this priority species. We hope to shed light on why our local population is increasing whilst elsewhere in the UK harbour seal populations are in decline.
For more details, contact Rachel Hibberd, Director, Dean & Reddyhoff 07817 138322 firstname.lastname@example.org