The first seal survey was back in 1994, when just 3 harbour seals were recorded. The Wildlife Trust and partners at Chichester and Langstone Harbour Authorities aim to repeat the aerial survey each August when the seals moult.
This year’s survey found that a minimum of 49 harbour seals - including 11 pups - and 7 grey seals are currently resident in the Solent. The areas surveyed were Langstone Harbour, Chichester Harbour, Portsmouth Harbour, Ryde sand banks, Beaulieu and Newtown Creek.
The survey was made possible thanks to Dean & Reddyhoff, who run marinas in Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Dorset. They funded the flight and sourced a plane and pilot. They have also raised an additional £1077 for local marine wildlife work through their berth holders party and Big Green Cycle Ride events.
The survey forms part of the Wildlife Trust’s developing Secrets of the Solent project, which aims to protect and celebrate marine wildlife and heritage of the Solent, with the generous support of the Heritage Lottery Fund.