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Wildlife Trust learns to identify Scilly seals


The Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust has been learning how to identify individual seals on Scilly.

A team from the Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust (CRGRT) has been on the islands this week training Trust members in photo ID.

Sue Sayer from CRGRT said: "Every seal has a unique fur pattern by which it can be identified for life so you know the pattern, you know the seal. We have a catalogue of seals for Scilly which we’ve developed since 2008 but it’s all been very anecdotal, just occasional photos we’ve been sent or we’ve taken ourselves on surveys we've done for Natural England.

"Scilly is a special area of conservation for seals. It’s really important to do photo ID for seals here because they’re protected here. We’re just hoping that we’ll be able to get photos from members of the public and the Wildlife Trust and then the Wildlife Trust staff will have the skills to process them so we can identify the seals and learn their stories."

CSGRT then matches a photo sent to them with a catalogue photo and looks for five exact fur pattern matches in the same relative position in order to be scientifically confident of the seal's identity.

Cornwall Seal Group encourages everyone to send in their seal sightings (even just one seal in the sea or on land) with a date and location from anywhere around the South West, writing on its website: "Photos are a bonus as they help us to confirm if it is a grey seal, whether it is male or female and perhaps even reveal its name and life history! Please email sue@cornwallsealgroup.co.uk with your sightings."

Meanwhile, the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust wrote on social media: "We're really looking forward to learning more about our lovely seals and also being able to tell all of you, our supporters and followers, the stories of our Scilly Seals, and beyond."

Read more about seals in Sue Sayer's regular column in Scilly Now & Then magazine.

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