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Seal Research

Seals (640x480)

Whilst studying for my masters degree at MMU I had the opportunity to pick from a variety of project options for my thesis. I chose to study a newly described behaviour oberserved in harbour seals in collaboration with Dr Robyn Grant and the Sensory Ecology Research Group at the Marine Science Center in Germany. We could see that the harbour seals were actively moving their whiskers to sense hydrodynamic signals underwater, which had never been seen before. I used videos collected from the seals doing a hydrodynamic task, and then tracked their whisker movements in a specialist program, developed by a leading scientist  for rodent whisker sensing. This meant that my project gave me multiple connections with different research groups and the chance to use new techniques on a newly described behaviour.

During my thesis study, I was also given the opportunity to visit the research group in Germany – both the scientists and the harbour seals. Whilst there I gave a talk on my findings and had the chance to hear what other scientists thought of my data and their ideas on my project. For the rest of my stay I helped PhD students with their data collection and also got to try some training techniques myself on the resident seals. The trip experience was fantastic and meant I was able to see first hand how the experts work in this field and see exciting new research projects in progress!

By Carly Morris, MSc

November 3rd, 2014 - 13:19pm

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