Working together for seal research
Sälfie ID is a seal photo-id citizen science project run by researchers at the University of Gothenburg. It aims to collect photographs of Swedish seals from people who spend their time by the coast and on the water. Through seal photo-id, these photographs will be used to learn more about seal ecology, such as how much seals move around within the sea and what impact human activities have on their behaviour.
Seal identification – unique stories to tell
All three Swedish seal species – grey, harbour, and ringed seals, have unique patterns on their faces and bodies. These patterns stay with the animals their entire lives acting as a ‘fingerprint’ to identify individuals. This identification can be done manually or automatically using pattern recognition software. Once a seal has been identified for the first time, its unique pattern and characteristics are added to the Sälfie database. Any further sightings can then be recorded and used to answer questions about seal ecology. Do seals stay in the same location their whole lives? How long does the average seal live? With the help of the public, Sälfie aims to answer all these questions and more!
Always give seals space
Remember to keep your distance (at least 100 m). The time seals spend on land is vitally important for them to recover between foraging trips. They are easily scared and if approached will make a quick escape into the water – risking injury. Take photos when seals are already in the water or with a zoom. If a seal is looking directly at you, it has been disturbed and you should move away.
Funded by ASAB