Spirit of the South: Counting seals in Chichester Harbour

Watch: ITV News Meridian's Mary Stanley goes seal counting at Chichester Harbour

The South is a special part of the country with stunning coastlines, wonderful woodlands and waterways.

ITV News Meridian is celebrating this part of the world with our annual series called 'Spirit of the South', showcasing the region and some of the hidden treasures it holds.

Chichester Harbour is one of the busiest recreational harbours in the country, but also a haven for wildlife of all shapes and sizes, such as seals.

The number of these mammals have grown significantly since the 1990s, and each month ecologists go out and count their numbers.

Seals along Chichester Harbour Credit: ITV News Meridian

Peter Hughes, an ecologist at Chichester Harbour Conservancy, said: "We know there's at a least 60 to 70 individuals, but there may be quite a few more than that, that visit the harbour."

The seals forage over a large stretch of the Solent, with the harbour providing mud and sand to rest.

Balancing nature with harbour life is part of the work of the Chichester Harbour Conservancy which marks its 50th anniversary this year.  

Chichester Harbour Credit: ITV News Meridian

Education is also important, with the harbour welcoming 8,000 school pupils each year from as far as London.  

The plant life of the sand dunes and salt marshes provide valuable learning for biology students.

Chichester Harbour Credit: ITV News Meridian

Chichester Harbour is a habitat for thousands of birds such as oystercatchers, curlews and terns.  

It is an area popular for walking, kayaking to solar powered boat trips, and whether you are exploring on water or land, it is hoped that everyone can work together to ensure peace and tranquility for all.