Investigations into the impact of vessel noise on the Australian fur seal colony at Seal Rocks are now well underway. This collaborative project is made up of a team of researchers from the University of Sydney, Phillip Island Nature Parks, and the University of Paris-Saclay/CNRS.
The underwater sound recorders (hydrophones) have been retrieved from Seal Rocks and data from these will be analysed in the Acoustic Communication lab at University of Paris/CNRS in September. The data from videos of seal behavioural responses to vessel noise are currently being collated and will also be analysed in September. Preliminary results of these two aspects of the project will be presented at the Ecological Society of Australia and the Society for Conservation Biology Oceania (ESA-SCBO) 2022 Conference in November.
In addition, preliminary results of seal pup health during the breeding/peak vessel visitation season and non-breeding/off-peak season were presented at the Australian Marine Sciences Association (AMSA) 2022 Conference in Cairns. The presentation went very well, with plenty of follow-up questions and great discussions with people from the audience.
Thanks go to the Penguin Foundation, who funded the hydrophones, and also to the Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment from Ecological Society of Australia, and the Foundation for Australia’s Most Endangered Species (FAME), who’s funding has supported our field and laboratory research.
Data collection will be repeated for a second year in the upcoming breeding season from December 2022 to January 2023, and again in the non-breeding season from April-June 2023. The research team are now seeking further funding for commercial boat and dive charter to facilitate field research in the second year, and laboratory research in the third year, of the project.
Stay tuned for more updates and why not Adopt an Australian Fur Seal today!
Photo credit: Jessalyn Taylor | PhD Candidate