19 November 2011

The Seals at Donna Nook are important to wildlife watchers around the UK and Europe, attracting 40,000  visitors to the Lincolnshire coast each year. More than half of the worlds grey seal population lives and breeds around the UK coast. The largest populations are found at Donna Nook in Lincolnshire, on the Farne Islands, the Cornish coast and Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland.

Despite a large group of visitors I was able to record the sound of the seals and their young, as they were positioned very close to the shore line, (females or ‘cows’ give birth between September and November). The equipment I used to capture the recordings was an omni-directional microphone and a parabolic dish, the dish was particularly helpful to focus and amplify the sounds of the seals in such a tourist- heavy environment. On the soundtrack (below) the sound of two male (bull) grey seals can be heard in an aggressive attack (bear in mind they are the largest mammals found in the UK), whilst the haunting cries of a seal pup yelps at its mother for more milk (they can drink up to 3 litres in a day). More than 1,000 seal pups have been born at Donna Nook this year.

Listen to Donna Nook seals 2011, approx 2 minutes

Lucy Stevens’ artistic practice examines the acoustic ecology of the natural environment, using field recording, digital illustration, performance and printmaking as a tool to visualise sound produced by wildlife, weather and other natural phenomena.

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