You are here

Home > Park management > Environment > Science and adaptive management > Marine research > Seal and seabird research

Seal and seabird research

Seabird research at Wilsons Prom. Photo by Nicole Schumann, Deakin University.

Seabird research at Wilsons Prom. Photo by Nicole Schumann, Deakin University.

2 years ago from Unknown LDAP UserParks Victoria

Location: Seal and seabird research

Australian fur seal research at Wilsons Prom. Photo by Deakin University.

Australian fur seal research at Wilsons Prom. Photo by Deakin University.

2 years ago from Unknown LDAP UserParks Victoria

Location: Seal and seabird research

photo: John Arnould

photo: John Arnould

2 years ago from Unknown LDAP UserParks Victoria

Location: Seal and seabird research

Seal (photo: John Arnould)

Seal (photo: John Arnould)

2 years ago from Unknown LDAP UserParks Victoria

Location: Seal and seabird research

Wilsons Promontory  is recognised as being an important transitional marine area between different habitat types.  There are over 20 islands in this area which provide important breeding locations for seabirds and Australian fur seals.  The islands are also home to many unique terrestrial plants and animals which display vastly different ecologies to their mainland counterparts. Consequently, studying these populations is vital for monitoring the response of the Bass Strait ecosystem and the island habitats to environmental perturbations such as climate change. 

Parks Victoria, in collaboration with Deakin University, has conducted extensive research into seals and seabirds at Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park and Wilsons Promontory National Park.  This research explored a variety of research questions relating to fur seal physiology, genetic structure of the population, disease, population increase and foraging behaviours as well as seabird abundance and distribution.  Below are updates on two completed components of this project.

Nesting Seabirds

This study aimed to investigate the abundance, distribution and diversity of seabirds on 15 of Wilsons Promontory’s offshore islands. 

The intensive survey techniques were preformed in both summer and winter from 2008 until 2011 to ensure both winter and summer breeding seasons were accounted for. 

Results indicated that an estimated 839,034 short tail shearwater, 26,146 little penguin, 19,025 common diving petrel and 4,082 fairy prion breeding pairs occur in the region.  Previous abundances for most species is not available, however for the short tail shearwater, the estimated number of breeding pairs represents a decline of 36 per cent. 

The information gained from this project is essential to understand seabird ecology within the Bass Strait ecosystem as well as providing information for monitoring and managing the populations.

Ecotourism and Australian Fur Seals

Ecotourism is a sustainable form of tourism, usually focussed on spreading messages relating to environmental education and conservation.  However, many types of tourism (including ecotourism) can increase the exposure of wildlife to humans.  This can result in changes such as increased vigilance, decreased foraging efficiency, increased predation, decreased breeding success and direct injury or mortality.  Australian fur seals are one of the least abundant species of fur seals in the world and ecotourism involving Australian fur seals is very popular.  Soor management purposes, it is important to know the effect of tourist boats on seal behaviour.

The study found that seals resident on the islands in Wilsons Promontory are affected by the approach of boats.  Seal attendance and seal behaviour are more strongly affected with closer boat approaches, approaches in the morning and approaches in the summer post-breeding period.  Colonies which are exposed to more regular boat traffic (e.g. at Seal Rocks) are less responsive to boats, however this exposure needs to remain relatively constant.  Constant exposure to boats at the Prom is undesirable as the increase in boat presence is likely to have other negative impacts on the environment. 

These results are particularly useful for park managers so they can ensure that ecotourism and other vessel movements have minimal effect on seal colonies.

Sambar deer in the Alpine National Park Click to view the news RSS feed.

Deer control trial for a healthier Alpine National Park

27 Jul 2015

Parks Victoria, in partnership with the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (SSAA) and the Australian Deer Association (ADA), have begun a three year trial deer control program to limit environmental damage deer are causing in the Alpine National Park. This trial is the first of its kind in the park…

View all latest news

What's on

Click to view RSS Feed

What's on for 2015-2016 at Albert Park

1 Jul 2015 12:00am - 30 Jun 2016 12:00am

A wide variety of events are held at Albert Park throughout the year. Events range from fun runs and sporting tournaments to other community events. See the full calendar here.

Click to view RSS Feed

Hooded Plovers Naturewise Experience

29 Jul 2015 8:30am - 31 Jul 2015 5:30pm

On this exclusive Naturewise trip you will be working alongside Parks Victoria Rangers and conservation experts on a critical Hooded Plover habitat restoration projects including hands-on removal of sea spurge, establishing photo monitoring points, and recording data on any Hooded Plover activity. You will also experience the best of the…

Click to view RSS Feed

GMBC Winter NFF 2015, Round 8

31 Jul 2015 6:00pm-8:30pm

Round 8 of GMBC Winter NFF 2015 series. MTB trails in use in Kurrajong.

Click to view RSS Feed

Healesville/Coranderrk Walk: Learn about Wurundjeri history & Coranderrk Mission

3 Aug 2015 2:00pm-4:00pm

During Wurundjeri Week, Wurundjeri Council will be running various tours on Wurundjeri Country to educate the public on different aspects of Indigenous and Wurundjeri culture. Coranderrk Mission still holds great significance to the Wurundjeri people as well as tribes of the Kulin Nation. Discover how it came about, the people…