More than 120 Seals Sampled in Annual Monomoy, Muskeget Study

A group of six gray seal pups on Muskeget. Note their white coasts, called lanugo, which will be shed in a few weeks for a dark fur coat or pelage. All images were taken under NOAA scientific research permit #17670-03. Photo Credit: NOAA Fisheries/Kimberly Murray, NEFSC

WOODS HOLE – Research crews from the Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole recently wrapped up their annual study of gray seal pups on Muskeget and Monomoy islands.

For the last five years, the organization has collected data on the animals in an attempt to find out how many seals are on the islands and what their health condition is like. The research trips are held in January.

Researchers tagged 71 pups on Monomoy and 50 on Muskeget.

Their initial findings suggest that the pups on Monomoy were slightly younger than the seals on Muskeget. As a result, research teams returned to Monomoy in late January for a second sampling effort.

Crews briefly capture the seals so they can take samples for study. They are released about 20 minutes later.

The information will be used gather data on habitat use, gray seal ecology, and stock health.

Researchers from MIT have been using the data to study the influenza A virus in gray seals, how it transmits, and the prevalence of the virus in the seal population.

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