7 November 2011, 15:54

Russia and the U.S. to count seals

Russia and the U.S. to count seals

The permanent expedition of the Russian Academy of Sciences will launch a large-scale project together with American scientists to count the number of seals in the Russian Arctic next year.

The permanent expedition of the Russian Academy of Sciences will launch a large-scale project together with American scientists to count the number of seals in the Russian Arctic next year.

Revealing the details of the project, a fellow at the Institute of Ecology and Evolution, deputy director of the Beluga White Whale Programme, Dmitry Glazov has this to say:

“A supplement to the agreement between Russia and the U.S. on the protection of the environment is linked to the preservation of marine mammals. We have drawn up a project for the next year to count the number of seals which come onto ice for reproduction. All seals need a hard surface to rest and give birth to their pups. There are four species of seals in the Okhotsk Sea and the Bering Sea,” says Dmitry Glazov.

Aircraft and satellites will be used to count marine seals. Special sensors are fixed on the flappers of the seals to determine their location through the signal sent to the satellites. Members of the permanent expedition are preparing to implement the project. They have already fixed 7 such sensors on the flappers of the animals and will shortly "equip" another 10 seals in the Okhotsk Sea.

It’s no easy task to count the number of seals. First of all, the procedure of fixing signal emitting sensors is very expensive because the price of a Russian-made sensor is almost one thousand euros. The expedition needs no less than 20-25 sensors. Second, the number of animals can be counted only when they are on land and this happens not so often, says Dmitry Glazov:

“Unlike Belugas or whales, seals move actively from one place to another. They swim fast across the sea and explore new territories. In short, they move to Chukotka from the Okhotsk Sea and return back. When we count these animals, we have to take into account the entire region,” Dmitry Glazov said.  

The permanent expedition of the Russian Academy of Sciences will share the details of the project and display equipment used to mark the seals at the Ocean-2011 international exhibition that will be held in Moscow in December. Its members will also share the details of other studies linked to sea animals with the visitors of the exhibition. This concerns the programme aimed at studying the spread and migration of belugas, white bears in the Russian Arctic, and the population of gray whales in the Okhotsk and the Korean Seas using satellites. This work is being carried out in the Russian Arctic, Far East and on Sakhalin under personal control of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and the aegis of the Russian Geographical Society. 

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