Beliefs that growing gray seal populations are responsible for harming water quality around Cape Cod, Mass., are unfounded, according to a release from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Researchers from the new Northwest Atlantic Seal Research Consortium analyzed 89 sites on the Cape for fecal indicator bacteria enterococci. Enterococci is not particularly dangerous, but its presence is associated with other pathogens.
They found beaches near seal haul-outs were less prone to beach closings in comparison with beaches away from seal haul-outs.
Seal hangouts actually have a improving record of water quality compared other beaches in the area, regardless of the animals’ barking and carrying on.
Researchers will continue monitoring the effects of growing populations on coastal ecology.
Image: A group of gray seals on Cape Cod (Credit: Mike’s Birds, via Flickr)