MaRo – Grey Seals Project


TitleResearch on conflict resolution and development of management measures for the protection of Grey Seals of the German Baltic Sea
Short nameMaRo
SponsorFederal Agency for Nature Conservation
DurationSeptember 2020 until August 2023
Project managementDr. Michael Dähne
Project staffM. Sc. Linda Westphal
M. Sc. Farina Reif

Project Description

The project "Research on Conflict Resolution and Development of Management Measures for the Protection of Grey Seals of the German Baltic Sea" ("MaRo") aims to contribute to a sustainable coexistence between humans and grey seals.

Grey Seals were considered to be extinct in the southern Baltic Sea until the early 2000s. Gradually, they are returning to their historical distribution areas. Meanwhile grey seals can be found in gradually increasing numbers all year round in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. However, there are still no established breeding sites along the German coast.

The research project will focus on population development, food preferences and interactions with fisheries. The results will serve as a scientific basis for sustainable management of the specially protected species grey seal in the Baltic Sea.

Four work packages with the following methods are being carried out in the project:

monitoring and assessment

  • regular land- and boat-based counts
  • internationally standardised aerial surveys during pupping period and moulting
  • Examination of dead animals for health, nutritional and reproductive status as well as age structure

prey spectrum and feeding grounds

  • Stomach content examination
  • In vitro digestion experiments and stable isotope analyses to investigate the prey spectrum and feeding grounds 

Fisheries conflict and bycatch

  • Investigation of overlap of prey range and feeding grounds with fisheries species and fishing areas
  • Identification of fishing gear with potentially increased bycatch risk through dissections of by-caught and stranded seals

Committee work and management

  • Participation in national and international committees such as the Robben AG MV and HELCOM MAMA
  • Public relations work & information events

The project is funded by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation.