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SealWatch.org is dedicated to the general well-being of harbor seals and to vigorous enforcement of applicable law for their protection. Alerts will be posted here of documented instances of continued disturbance or threats to harbor seal safety and habitat; Cheers will be posted when new efforts have been made to extend protection.
updated 4.4.17

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ALERT: PRIVATE DRONE OPERATION DISTURBING MOMS AND PUPS IN SEAL ROOKERY

Even though conservation scientists in Iceland ("ˇmanna­ loftfar") and NOAA Fisheries researchers in Massachusetts have used drones to supplement airplane and field surveys to document seal populations, the use of private, non-professional, recreational equipment presents a real threat to harbor seal breeding success. Pup rescue has already been required at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary as a consequence of drone disturbance, and the scope of the problem is only now becoming apparent.
HOPKINS MARINE LAB
[ USFWS image ][ SealWatch.org photo ]
 
The large rookery adjacent to the Hopkins Marine Laboratory has been protected behind a chain-link fence for decades, even though it is easily visible from the main tourist road along the Monterey Bay shoreline. The proliferation of hobby drones has challenged that protection. Despite Federal law restricting the operation of drones in National Parks - and they are simply prohibited in increasing numbers of regional and municipal parks - the full weight of the Marine Mammal Protection Act has not yet been brought to bear upon the issue.
 
"Disturbance" is not a matter of intent, method, or source, but simply a factual question answered by observed behavior. And harbor seal mothers abandoning pups in response to a drone overflight is incontrovertible evidence.