There are strong indications that Iceland’s seal population is declining.
The annual stock count conducted by the Seal Center took place last weekend and found just 446 animals—the lowest number counted since annual counts began.
The count took place in Vestur-Húnavatnssýsla and Seal Center ecologist Sandra Granquist told RÚV that a record number of people took part in the count—which makes the low number of seals spotted even more worrying.
“This is actually the lowest number we have had in this count. This is the ninth time we have done this,” Sandra said. “On the other hand, the weather was very bad on Sunday. And that has an impact, as they are less likely to lie on the shore when there is wind and rain.”
Sandra freely admits that the weekend’s census may not have been totally accurate, but says there is nevertheless a trend for a shrinking seal population over recent years.
She says the reason for the decline is not known; saying that many factors could be to blame, including warming seas and scarceness of food. It is also not known whether the decline is due to older seals not living as long, or to baby seals not making it to adulthood.
Sandra notes that the last comprehensive nationwide seal count was in 2011, and she recommends another one should be arranged soon.
“We were hoping to get funding to count the stock overall around the whole country this year. That didn’t happen, but we hope to be able to do it next year. I think it is really important to be able to do that.”