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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 January 2007, 10:02 GMT
Study begins into seal population
Grey Seals
Grey seals are regular inhabitants of the west coast
A major study of seals has begun along the Cumbrian coastline.

Cumbria Wildlife Trust is carrying out the survey, in an effort to determine numbers and find out more about the behaviour of grey and common seals.

The findings will be combined with other wildlife trusts along the length of the west coast of Britain and around the Irish Sea.

The trust's South Walney Nature Reserve already has a substantial population of grey seals.

'Quite uncommon'

The trust wants to establish the migration habits of the seals over the traditional winter period.

Photographs of individual seals will be taken and then matched up with photographs taken elsewhere along the coast.

A behavioural pattern about how seals move around can then be identified.

Seal expert Stephen Westcott, who has been working with staff at South Walney Nature Reserve, said: "In world terms grey seals are quite uncommon, perhaps numbering about 300,000.

"However, the British Isles is, along with the east coast of Canada, the world headquarters of this seal. The British population may number as many as 120,000.

"The common seal tends to live along relatively sheltered stretches of coast."

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