Status of the harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) in Southern Scandinavia

  • Morten Tange Olsen Stockholm University, Department of Genetics, Microbiology and Toxicology, Svante Arrheniusväg 20C, S-10691 Stockholm, Sweden and National Environmental Research Institute, Aarhus University, Department of Arctic Environment, Frederiksborgvej 399, D
  • Signe May Andersen National Environmental Research Institute, Aarhus University, Department of Arctic Environment, Frederiksborgvej 399, DK-4000, Roskilde, Denmark and Institute of Biology, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, DK-5230 Odense M, Denmark
  • Jonas Teilmann National Environmental Research Institute, Aarhus University, Department of Arctic Environment, Frederiksborgvej 399, DK-4000, Roskilde, Denmark
  • Rune Dietz National Environmental Research Institute, Aarhus University, Department of Arctic Environment, Frederiksborgvej 399, DK-4000, Roskilde, Denmark
  • Susi Manuela Clermont Edrén National Environmental Research Institute, Aarhus University, Department of Arctic Environment, Frederiksborgvej 399, DK-4000, Roskilde, Denmark and Institute of Biology, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, DK-5230 Odense M, Denmark
  • Anton Linnet Thy State Forest District, Søholtvej 6, Vester Vandet, DK-7700 Thisted, Denmark
  • Tero Härkönen Swedish Museum of Natural History, Box 50007, S-10405 Stockholm, Sweden
Keywords: harbour seals, Scandinavia, distribution, abundance

Abstract

The harbour seal population in Southern Scandinavia has experienced repeated declines caused by hunting and epizootics. These events have shaped the current distribution and abundance of the population. This paper assesses the current status of the population. We estimate trends in abundance of harbour seals from long term survey data, compare these with historic trends inferred from previously published material, and discuss past and potential threats to the harbour seal population of Southern Scandinavia. It is evident that harbour seals have disappeared from haulout areas along the Danish shores of Kattegat and in the westernmost part of the Baltic Sea, where they were previously numerous. In the 1920-30s, when abundance was at its lowest, the population is estimated to have been only a fraction of its original size. Following 30 years of protection the population is currently approaching historic abundance and might have reached the carrying capacity in some areas. Further development depends largely on effects of future epizootics, anthropogenic disturbance, and availability of suitable haulout sites.
Published
2013-09-23
How to Cite
OlsenM. T., AndersenS. M., TeilmannJ., DietzR., EdrénS. M. C., LinnetA., & HärkönenT. (2013). Status of the harbour seal (<i>Phoca vitulina</i&gt;) in Southern Scandinavia. NAMMCO Scientific Publications, 8, 77-94. https://doi.org/10.7557/3.2674