To celebrate 40 years since the world famous Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) was established, Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems have today released their latest edition, but this edition is extra special as it honours SMRU’s 40th anniversary by only including manuscripts from work led by researchers at SMRU. The journal has manuscripts covering SMRU’s investigations of many marine mammal species, but still only covers a portion of the world class research undertaken at, and in collaboration with SMRU, highlighting what a hub St Andrews is for marine mammal science.

Here are just some of the papers included in this Special Issue which are relevant to the work that SMRU Consulting conduct:

Several papers relating to seals in the UK including: grey seal population size, grey seal pup production and the status of UK harbour seals

  • This work represents a huge amount of monitoring and modelling effort and collectively helps us to better understand the populations of grey and harbour seals around the UK and their population trends over time. This allows us to better understand local and management unit scale populations against which we can assess potential impacts from offshore developments.

Automated detection and tracking of marine mammals: A novel sonar tool for monitoring effects of marine industry

  • This paper outlines the development of innovative approaches to the use of sonar to detect and track marine mammals underwater. This work was part of the Scottish Government Demonstration Strategy project (which also involved  SMRU Consulting) where a marine mammal monitoring system was deployed at MeyGen in order to better understand marine mammal responses around operating tidal turbines. These data will help to inform collision risk modelling and impact assessments for tidal turbine devices.

Measuring responses of harbour seals to potential aversive acoustic mitigation signals using controlled exposure behavioural response studies

  • This outlines studies conducted to quantify seal behavioural responses to acoustic deterrent devices (ADDs). The studies showed a range of responses to the ADDs and allowed us to understand the probability of response with increasing range (dose-response curve). These data fed into our ORJIP report on the use of ADDs to mitigate injury to marine mammals during pile driving.

Post‐disturbance haulout behaviour of harbour seals

  • This study investigated the behaviour of seals after they had been disturbed at their haulout in response to an approaching vessel. They showed that disturbance at a haulout didn’t cause any large scale redistribution of seals. It would be really interesting to see how this type of study could be further developed, for example seeing how a range of different activities may affect seals at haulouts.

SMRU Consulting are both hugely proud and grateful to be able to work alongside SMRU. We benefit directly from their expertise, knowledge and innovative research which we then put to good use helping our clients in industry, regulation and policy.

So, we’d like to extend our congratulations for 40 years of fantastic science!

You can find all papers within the Special Issue here: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/toc/10990755/2019/29/S1

Find the University of St Andrews press release here: https://news.st-andrews.ac.uk/archive/marking-40-years-of-the-sea-mammal-research-unit/

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