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BEHAVIOURAL RESEARCH IN THE DOLLARD
Every year, Bea and Marga observe all seals coming into the Dollard area. Since 2015, data has been gathered on over 400 seals (mothers and pups). The insights from this research are invaluable. On this page you can meet the team, learn about the methodologies used and discover key insights.
How do you recognise seals?
To study seals individually, we need to be able to recognise them. We do this using the spots on their fur. Each seal's spot pattern is unique. You can compare this to a fingerprint. Our research team does this on seals in the wild. At a safe distance, with photo identification.
For the field research on seal mother and pups, our team uses the tides every day to observe their behaviour. The study runs from late May to mid-July. During this period, our team is ready to observe behind the observation wall in the Dollard every day. You can read exactly how they work, and what it takes, here.
Philopatry in seals
Sometimes animals return to their birth area to give birth to their own young. This is called site fidelity. Researchers Bea and Marga look into whether seals show this behaviour as well and what the reasons are for this.
Upbringing by seal mothers
Each animal species raises their young differently. An elephant, for example, may stay with their mother until adulthood. Seal mothers usually leave their pups after only 3 weeks. Interestingly, during those weeks they also milk other pups. We investigate why they do this.