A grant will help Stockton keep track of harbor seals in NJ
When you think of New Jersey, you might not think of harbor seals, but we’re home to several seal populations during the colder months.
According to a report on Downbeach.com, Stockton University has received a grant of nearly $700,000 to initiate a satellite tagging program of harbor seals in South Jersey.
Harbor seals are the most common type of seal found in New Jersey. They are typically seen in the winter months, when they migrate south from their breeding grounds in Canada and New England. Harbor seals can be found along the entire New Jersey coastline, but they are most commonly seen in the bays and estuaries.
Harbor seals are small to medium-sized seals, with adults typically measuring 5-6 feet long and weighing 100-200 pounds. They have a gray or brown coat with white spots and a distinctive heart-shaped nose.
Harbor seals are carnivores, and their diet consists mainly of fish, squid, and crabs. Harbor seals are social animals, and they often gather in large groups called "haulouts." Haulouts can be found on beaches, sandbars, and even in the middle of rivers.
There are three main haulout sites in New Jersey: the Great Bay, Sandy Hook, and Barnegat Light.
According to Downbeach.com,
Stockton personnel will work alongside tagging experts from the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society for this three-year, $682,890 grant from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Research and Monitoring Initiative.
Starting in December, personnel from Stockton’s Marine Field Station, in conjunction with other agencies, will begin tagging select seals to, in part, study their migratory patterns. They will also be monitoring if natural or man-made factors (like wind farms) affect their behavior.
Stockton students won’t participate in the tagging process, but they will help assess and analyze the data.
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