The team of the Commander Islands Nature and Biosphere Reserve finished the counts of the northern fur seal. The activity took place on Bering Island (Monati Cape, Severnoye and Sever-Zapadnoye rookeries) and on Medny Island (Urilye rookery and Bobroviye Kamni).
Counts of marine mammals, including of the northern fur seal, are a part of the Ecological Monitoring Plan of the Commander Island Reserve. In the beginning of August, all the counts on northern fur seal rookeries were finished. In the recent three years, the scientists of the reserve use drones for counts of fur seal pups. Such remote method of monitoring replaced previous scare-off method, which consisted in scaring adult animals off the rookery to count the newborn pups. This method had detrimental effect on the rookery, as the animals were stresses and damaged during fleeing.
Northern fur seal pup. Photo by Evgeny Mamaev
Overall, this year the researchers took 1500 photos, which are still to be processed. However, today we can say that the situation on the rookeries is stable, in comparison to that on the islands near Alaska. For example, Pribilof Islands see a decrease in the population.
The numbers of northern fur seals on the Commander Islands rookeries is estimated at about 265 thousand individuals, which corresponds to 1/5 of the world population of these animals.