You are here:

Heligoland grey seal evaluation and subsequent investigation of existing data for the support of planned management actions


Project leader: Prof. Prof. h. c. Dr. Ursula Siebert
Scientific work: Dr. Abbo van Neer
Project term: March 2019 through July 2020
Sponsorship: Ministry of Energy, Agriculture, the Environment, Nature and Digitalisation (MELUND), Kiel

Project Description 


The native grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) population developed increasingly positive after official protection and following recolonisation of the Wadden Sea. This can be seen as a good sign for the effectiveness of the implemented protective measures regarding the population development.

However, the positive population development also creates challenges from the management point of view. There is an increasing demand of suitable habitat as well as ressources, which is mostly associated with an enhanced conflict potential. This is especially connected with several tourism, fishery and energy industry stakeholders utilising the North Sea area.

The gain of a preferably comprehensive understanding of the target species concerning biology, health, habitat demand and connected population development is a fundamental requirement for the implementation of an effective and future-oriented management. Beside the value for the future local management concept, this knowledge is increasingly requested within the framework of international treaties.

The Heligoland dune plays a superior role for the German grey seal population. Up to 68% of the German population can be found there. Due to this presence, Heligoland is especially suitable as model region for further scientific studies in order to promote an understanding on national level beside the local situation.

Therefore, following aspects shall be processed in the context of this project:


° Detailed evaluation of beach use by grey seals on the Heligoland dune


° Analysis of collected data from the Schleswig-Holstein stranding network in order to gain a better understanding of marine mammals stranded on Heligoland (species, quantity, age, diseases)


° Support of public relations work for the management of potential human-wildlife conflict


° Feasibility studies concerning the investigation of long-term development and habitat use of the native grey seal population via telemetry under consideration of mortality, fertility and site fidelity as essential parameters for population development



Grey seals and visitors closely spaced, Heligoland dune. Foto: Abbo van Neer, ITAW (TiHo)

Contact person

University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research

Werftstr. 6

25761 Büsum


Dr. Abbo van Neer

E-Mail schreiben

Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover
Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research
Werftstr. 6
25761 Büsum
Tel.:+49 511 856-8162
Fax.:+49 511 856-8181
This page...