The paper presents the results of seven-year survey of Antarctic seals along the western shore of Admiralty Bay, King George Island, South Shetland Islands. Five species were monitored during seven of the eight years, between 1988-95, excluding 1993. Numbers of elephant seals and Antarctic fur seals showed strong annual cycles, fur seals with two seasonal peaks. These of the other three species were more irregular. Fewer Weddell seals were seen in 1994 and 1995 then during the period 1988-92; with this exception, no overall trend in numbers was apparent during the period 1988-95.
Henryk Arctowski Station, the research station of the Polish Academy of Science in Admiralty Bay, King George Island, West Antarctica, is one of the most heavily visited bases in Antarctica. Between the seasons 1991/92 and 1996/97, 12884 tourists were recorded. A specially designed tourist trail was marked to divert visitors toward alternative attractions, not only the station buildings. Tourist management goals include: environmental protection, minimising waste and pollution, respecting the rules relating to protected areas, and prohibition of collections and souveniring.
Heartbeat and respiration of southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina), Weddell seals (Leptonychotes weddellii) and Antarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus gazella) were monitored simultaneously using a visual and non-intrusive method, at King George Island, South Shetland Islands. All three species demonstrated sleep apnoea with reduced heart rate. In adult elephant seals, heartbeat fell 18% in apnoea; spells lasted up to nine min, usually ending in disturbance from conspecifics or human visitors. Slight human disturbance (notably slight noise) reduced time spent in apnoea from over 40% to 4%, significantly reducing the frequency of falling into apnoea and increasing mean heartbeat. Further disturbance resulted in head raising, aggression, scratching, rolling and movement away. The visual monitoring of heartbeat and respiration can be used with resting or slightly disturbed animals but not when major body movements occur.