See wild horses and gray seals mingle on Sable Island

Every winter, around 500,000 gray seals congregate on a remote sandbar called Sable Island. Located 200 miles off the coast of Nova Scotia, seals congregate here to rest, molt, give birth to their young and reproduce. Although they don't face many predators on the island, they do mix with some wild horses that have been roaming free on the island for years.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Marine Biologist Michelle Shero and his colleagues are currently spending several weeks studying these pinnipeds. They are studying how much iron mother seals consume in their diet and how that affects the pups' diving ability and survival rates. THE Sable Island gray seal population has exploded in recent decades, but basically 90 percent of puppies die within their first year. The team believes this is due to increased competition for food.

Check out some photos of the work below:

Sable Island horses graze on the shore at sunset. CREDIT: Michelle Shero/ ©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
The view of ATV researchers while monitoring the population around the island. CREDIT: Michelle Shero/ ©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Seals and horses coexist on the shores of Sable Island. In the background is the old lighthouse keepers' house in which the research team lives. CREDIT: Michelle Shero/ ©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Horses and gray seals lounge on one of the sandy areas of Sable Island. CREDIT: Michelle Shero/ ©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
WHOI marine biologist Michelle Shero was about to collect information on the health of a gray seal pup when curious equine onlookers began to observe her. CREDIT: Michelle Rivard.

Shero works with the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans and his research is funded by the National Science Foundation in partnership with Texas Tech University and the University of Alaska.

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