Coexistence of seals and humans on Lake Saimaa and Lake Ladoga

Project press release

CoExist, a collaborative project focusing on the sustainable coexistence of freshwater seals and humans in Finland and Russia, has secured a three-year funding. Launched in April, the project seeks to enhance Finnish-Russian research collaboration and raise awareness of seal-human coexistence among different stakeholders. CoExist is a new larger scale opening in Finnish-Russian seal research in twenty years. The project explores seal behaviour and, in doing so, promotes the coexistence of seals and humans through education and information sharing.

The methods used to study and conserve seals on Lake Saimaa, and the related know-how, will also be made available on Lake Ladoga. The coexistence of seals and humans will be addressed in the context of fishing and tourism in particular through interviews and various events. For example, information on the seal-friendly fishing practices used on Lake Saimaa will be made available on Lake Ladoga. Furthermore, a method developed to identify individual Saimaa ringed seals will also be applied to Ladoga ringed seals. Using satellite transmitters, the researchers will study the movements of Ladoga ringed seals. In addition, an automated identification method will be developed for both seal species. Information about seals will be raised through various events and campaigns organised for the general public and in schools in Finland and Russia. The conservation of freshwater seals is a way to conserve the unique nature environment of lakes and to ensure that people have the possibility to enjoy nature also in the future.

The CoExist project is led by the University of Eastern Finland, with Lappeenranta University of Technology, the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation and Biologists for Nature Conservation from Saint Petersburg as partners. The project constitutes part of the South-East Finland – Russia CBC 2014-2020 programme, which is funded by the European Union, the Russian Federation and the Finnish Government.

For further information, please contact:

Project Coordinator Marja Niemi, University of Eastern Finland, marja.niemi(a)
Photo: Mervi Kunnasranta