A note on harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) distribution and abundance in France and Belgium

  • Sami Hassani Laboratoire d’Etude des Mammifères Marins, Océanopolis, port de Plaisance, BP 91039, F-29210 Brest cedex1, France
  • Laëtitia Dupuis Picardie Nature, BP 835, F-80008 Amiens cedex, France
  • Jean François Elder Réserve naturelle nationale du domaine de Beauguillot, Beauguillot, F-50480 Sainte-Marie du Mont, France
  • Emmanuel Caillot Réserve naturelle nationale du domaine de Beauguillot, Beauguillot, F-50480 Sainte-Marie du Mont, France
  • Gerard Gautier AEROBAIE, 24 boulevard Stanislas, F-50530 Saint Jean Le Thomas, France
  • Audrey Hemon Syndicat Mixte Baie du Mont-Saint-Michel, 2 rue du Prieuré, F-50170 Ardevon, France
  • Jean Michel Lair Maison de la Baie du Mont Saint Michel, Port le Vivier, Cherrueix, F-35960 Le Vivier sur Mer, France
  • Jan Haelters Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, department Management Unit of the North Sea Mathematical Models, 3e en 23e Linieregimentsplein, B-8400 Ostend, Belgium
Keywords: harbour seals, France, Belgium, population status, distribution, abundance

Abstract

The most southern European colonies of harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) are located in France, in three areas: Baie du Mont Saint Michel, Baie des Veys and Baie de Somme. The largest colony is situated at the Baie de Somme, with a maximum of 186 individuals recorded on one occasion in the summer of 2008. All colonies are regularly monitored by different organisations. Different monitoring methods are used, including land-based, air-based and ship-based survey techniques. The basic results of the monitoring indicate a regular increase in the population size since 1990, with the total count of hauled out harbour seals for the three colonies increasing from 24 in 1990 to 295 in 2008. During the last years, an increasing number of pregnant females, pups and postweaned seals have been observed. The recorded number of pups in 2008 was 53. Along the Belgian coast, no harbour seal colonies exist anymore, although individual animals and small groups are regularly observed at different locations. The high recreational use of Belgian beachesmay prevent the establishment of colonies or regularly used haulout sites. 
Published
2010-09-01
How to Cite
HassaniS., DupuisL., ElderJ. F., CaillotE., GautierG., HemonA., LairJ. M., & HaeltersJ. (2010). A note on harbour seal (<i>Phoca vitulina</i&gt;) distribution and abundance in France and Belgium. NAMMCO Scientific Publications, 8, 107-115. https://doi.org/10.7557/3.2678