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Seal study brings interesting results

Published: September 9, 2016

Cornwall College Newquay Adult

Research conducted by a student from Bicton College has discovered that an artificial environment can lead to a difference in the haul out patterns of seals.  Lorna Tanner-Jepson, who has been studying on the FdSc Animal Health and Management course, has spent over 80 hours monitoring the behaviours of the animals at the Seal Sanctuary in Cornwall.

According to previous academic studies, seals in the wild will come ashore when the air temperature increases and the sun is out, which is thought to be for thermoregulatory reasons.  But according to the initial findings of this research, this is not the same in an artificial environment.

Lorna said: “It’s been interesting; I’ve been working at the Seal Sanctuary at Gweek to look at the water temperature and the haul out rate of the seals in captivity; so do the Seals prefer warmer or cooler weather.  I’ve conducted around 80 hours of observations and at the moment there is no clear correlation, so I’m looking at other factors and considering if the captive environment alters their behaviour from their wild counterparts.”

Lorna decided to conduct this research has part of her final project for her foundation degree and is now hoping to continue her work as she plans to study for the BSc in Applied Zoology at Cornwall College Newquay.

She added: “The artificial environment does hinder there natural behaviours, but to what extent, I’m not sure, that is going to take further study.”

Bicton College offers a range of higher education options, which includes; equitational science, animal management, farm management, horticulture and countryside management.

Course Coordinator for Animal Care at Bicton College, Nadine Howe, said: “Lorna’s research is one of you a few pieces that have stood out this year and I am delighted that she is going to continue to explore this.  Bicton College has a proud history of research and this is another great example of how academia can help inform policies.”

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