This year’s seal census shows the lowest numbers yet, and there is as yet no explanation for the decrease.
RÚV reports that The Icelandic Seal Centre, which conducted the census last weekend, counted only 446 seals along the coast of a portion of northwest Iceland – despite record numbers of participants in the count.
“This is actually the lowest number of seals we’ve ever counted, and this is the ninth time this census has been held. ” ecologist Sandra Granquist told reporters. “On the other hand, the weather was awful last Sunday, which has an impact. Seals are less likely to lay on the beach in the wind and rain.”
However, even accounting for the weather, Iceland’s coastal seal population has been declining. A shortage of food could have played a part in this year’s low numbers, Sandra said, but there is no immediate explanation for what could be causing the decline.
Although the seal census this year was confined in the Húnavatn district, Sandra hopes to conduct a more comprehensive, national seal census next year, which she considers “very necessary”.
While seals are an uncommon sight at best in the capital area, it is not unusual to spot them in the waters off of Iceland’s northwest coast. The Seal Centre in fact identifies nine species of seal that one can find around Iceland, including the walrus. Only two species – the grey seal and the harbour seal – are native to Iceland.