Kiwi scientist calls on public to help count rare seal pups

Source: 1News

A New Zealadn scientist is looking for help from the public in counting Antarctic seals, but says it can be done without even leaving the warmth of home.

Satellite images taken in the Weddell Sea area are making it possible for a headcount of the rare crabeater seals from afar. 

It is important to count the species, known as an indicator species, to get a good idea of how many there are and how their populations are doing in order for experts to get an indication about the overall health of the Southern Ocean, Gateway Antarctica Researcher Dr Michelle La Rue said.

"This particular project is looking at crabeater seal pups in the Weddell Sea in the Southern Ocean, so what we're trying to do here is ask for volunteers, people to take time out of the day to go onto and tell us what they see," she said.

People can use the website to point out if they can spot any seals, which look like grains of black rice from the satellite.

It's hoped the research will support the establishment of the area where foraging and breeding grounds are protected.

Three years ago volunteers also helped Dr La Rue count Weddell seals in Antarctica.