Job for June: Seal Observation Project

Loch Fleet harbour seal photo-identification assistant:

Over the last 5 years an individual-based study of harbour seals has been carried out in Loch Fleet National Nature Reserve by the Lighthouse Field Station (Line Cordes). These individual-based data are crucial for understanding population-level changes.

However, harbour seal haul-out sites are often inaccessible or easily disturbed, and Loch Fleet presents one of the only places in the world where individual-based data of harbour seals are being obtained. Harbour seals have suffered widespread declines across the UK for reasons that are not fully understood.

We therefore want to turn the work done in Loch Fleet into a long-term study of harbour seal survival and reproductive ecology to get a better understanding of the potential drivers of the declines. We are especially interested in continuing the data collection on harbour seal survival, birth rates and the timing of pupping. These data are collected through the sighting and re-sightings of individual harbour seals recognised through photographing and matching their pelage patterns.

We seek a field assistant to carry out daily photo-identification surveys in Loch Fleet during June, 2011.

Job description:

  • Photo-identification surveys to be carried out daily throughout the month of June
  • Surveys to be carried out during one low tide on each day
  • Surveys typically last 1-3 hours depending on the number of seals and activity
  • Photographs of the head and neck region (right and/or left) of all seals hauled-out on the main sandbank are to be photographed
  • Seals in the presence of a pup are to be photographed with the pup
  • Bellies of seals to be photographed when possible along with identification photographs to determine sex.jJob requirements:
  • Interest in ecology and biology
  • Enjoy being outside watching wildlife – in all types of weather conditions
  • Ability to work for 2-3 hours a day
  • Flexible to work all times of the day depending on the time of low tide
  • Comfortable carrying heavy camera equipment
  • Comfortable using an SLR camera and telescope (camera settings will be pre-determined)
  • Patience in waiting for seals to move in order to take a good quality photo
  • Computer literate


  • Live near Loch Fleet
  • Drivers license and own transportation


  • Yes – to be discussed

Regards, please contact:

Line Cordes & Paul Thompson
Lighthouse Field Station
Cromarty, IV118YJ
Phone: 01381600548

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