Min 9°C Max 15°C
Low Tide 00:56 13:15
Min 5°C Max 14°C
Low Tide 01:50 14:08
A number of Common Seals (Phoca vitulina) also known as harbour seals live in the Solent and often visit Chichester Harbour. Each one has unique markings and even their colourings can be different ranging from tan to grey, black and brown. The females are generally smaller but with a longer lifespan. Atlantic Grey seal are also occassionally spotted. This is the only known rookery in the Eastern English Channel and so they are considered regionally unique and therefore very important.
Chichester Harbour provides an ideal habitat for them. Here they are relatively undisturbed and food is plentiful, as they like to tuck into fish and crustaceans. In addition there is plenty of mud and sand for them to rest on. They can be seen anywhere in the harbour and have been known to swim into the marinas and take a nap on the swimming platforms of moored boats!
If you do see one, enjoy it but please keep well away so that you do not cause any disturbance. Please read the Code of Conduct.
The Solent Seal project is a partnership project, led by the Wildlife Trusts South East Marine Programme in partnership with Chichester Harbour Conservancy, Sea Mammal Research Unit, and Natural England.
The aim was to learn more about the Solent seal population with a view to improving its conservation. The project utilised various techniques to survey and monitor the seal populations including visual counts at haul-outs, a public sightings scheme, photo-identification and telemetry.
Key findings include:
• Number of harbour seals currently estimated at 23-25, with 18 being the most recorded at any one time. Being a small population makes them more vulnerable to impacts.
• Only two significant haul-out sites exist, one in Langstone Harbour and one in Chichester Harbour.
• Both haul-out sites are used on a more or less daily basis but Chichester Harbour is used by more seals.
• The seals display often individual foraging behaviour and are faithful to their preferred foraging sites.
• The seals predominately forage in the Eastern Solent, between Southampton and Selsey Bill, often in the harbours, and regularly cross to the Isle of Wight.
• Seal foraging activity can change between seasons.
• Seal foraging takes place in a variety of habitat types and can focus on discrete seabed features such as rocky reefs and underwater structures.
More information: www.hwt.org.uk/pages/seal-project.html