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'Healthy' seal population in Thames

The Thames has a "healthy" seal population according to Zoological Society London conservation scientist Joanna Barker:

We knew there were a lot of seals in the Thames but 708 is pretty incredible.

In previous results there's been a good few hundred in the Thames, but it's great to have a figure we can use as a baseline.

Now we know the numbers and where they are, it can help with conservation.

It's a really good indicator because the seals are the top predators in the marine food chain, and it shows that the marine environment is relatively good and is producing enough food for the seals to eat.

At the moment it seems we've got a healthy population in the Thames

– Zoological Society London conservation scientist Joanna Barker

Over 700 seals found living in Thames

A harbour seal near Whitstable, Kent. Credit: PA

More than 700 seals have been found in the Thames Estuary in the first ever survey carried out by air, land and water, says the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

Volunteers and conservationists recorded 708 grey and harbour seals along the Thames Estuary.

The aerial survey meant researchers could count seals on the outer sandbanks of the estuary, where colonies of up to 120 seals were found in undisturbed spots.

Two threatened seal species to be granted protection

A ringed seal pup peeks out from its protective snow cave near Kotzebue, Alaska. Credit: REUTERS/Michael Cameron/NOAA's Alaska Fisheries Science Center

Two threatened species of far-north seals will be granted protections under the Endangered Species Act, US officials announced.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ordered "threatened" listings for populations of ringed seals and bearded seals in the waters off northern Alaska, in parts of Russia and other regions of the Arctic.

Both types of seals depend on sea ice and snow, which is becoming scarce in the Arctic region during the non-winter months, NOAA officials said in a written statement.