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LONG- NOSED FUR SEAL UPDATE: SARDI scientist presents research

7 May 2016

SARDI scientist Dr Simon Goldsworthy presented research on Long-Nosed Fur Seals at a recent KI NRM board meeting. Business Kangaroo Island presents this summary for our members who may be interested.

  • The research currently being undertaken has focussed around the seafood industry and eco-tourism in SA.

  • Pup numbers are a useful indicator of population size.  From previous research a pup multiplier of 4.76 is used for predicting the LNFS population.

  • In SA 29 colonies were monitored with an estimated 20,500 pups being born in Jan/Feb 2014.

  • Half of the pups born in the state are from sites located on KI (10,133, about half at Cape Gantheaume and half at Cape du Couedic). Most of the remaining (9,711) pups are born on North and South Neptune Island and Liguaena Islands.

  • For KI region pup production in 2014 was 10,133 so total estimate is 48,138. The SA population is estimated at 97,200. (however this 4.76 multiplier is probably too high given that many populations appear to be stabilising now).

LNFS trends in abundance;

  • Sealing industry decimated natural LNFS populations

  • Populations are recovering from the sealing industry

  • We have seen a 3.6 fold increase in LNFS numbers between 1988 & 2013 (when monitoring commenced)

  • Represents approx. 5% per year growth in population across the state – with the strongest growth on KI (Mainly due to fur seals recently colonising KI, probably from the Neptune ISlands which are now full).

  • Colonies on KI (Gantheaume) are getting quite full – new colonies are slowly developing in some areas however the best sites are obviously taken and the remaining sites are small and less favourable.

  • Population increases are flattening out – some colonies have peaked (e.g. Neptunes and Liguanea Islands); indicated by lower pup production.

LNFS public perceptions;

  • They are a feral animal - LNFS are a native Australian animal. They are not an introduced/feral fur seal from NZ.

  • They are over abundant – call for seal culls (like kangaroos) – LNFS populations are recovering from past exploitation. They are not like kangaroos which have increased in number due to improved grazing/pastures and water supply brought on by improvements to the landscape through agricultural/farming practices.

Interactions with fisheries – Current Research;

  • There is a research program investigating the impacts of seals on seafood industries being conducted by SARDI (funded by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, FRDC). The project is due to conclude in late 2016 – with findings likely to be reported around this time next year.

  •  (FRDC)

  • The project is examining seal diets, movement and spatial overlap with fishing and aquaculture industries (satellite tracking), modelling impacts on the ecosystem and fish production, and also

Socio/economic surveys to assess perceptions of seal impacts on aquaculture and fishing industries and other stakeholders.

 

Tracking;

  • Tracked 2 animals from the Kingscote Jetty in October 2015

  • Both animals did not stay in the Kingscote area for sustained periods –both spent about one month hauled out in breeding colonies in the Cape Gantheaume WPA. One seal then left Cape Gantheaume and over the next 100 days travelled south of Tasmania, before heading north into Bass Strait and hauling out on a small island south of King Island before the satellite tags battery failed.

  • Tracking shows that the seals don’t stay around in one area for very long they are still travelling vast distances.

 

BKI Disclaimer: Articles presented do not necessarily represent the view of Business Kangaroo Island or its Committee.  Business Kangaroo Island strive to provide timely, factual, information on a range of topics that affect businesses on Kangaroo Island, keeping members informed.

 

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