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Wild grey seals clap underwater to communicate
"The clap was incredibly loud and at first I found it hard to believe what I had seen." – Dr Ben Burville.

Piercing sound used to attract potential mates

A study led by Monash University has revealed that grey seals will clap their flippers together while underwater to communicate during breeding season.

It is widely known that marine mammals such as whales and seals communicate vocally through whistles and calls, and zoo animals can be trained to clap on command, but this is the first time a seal has been observed in the wild clapping its front flippers of its own accord.

Dr Ben Burville, a visiting researcher with Newcastle University, filmed the animals in the wild for 17 years, before capturing footage of a male grey seal producing a loud ‘crack’ sound by clapping its flippers together.

“The clap was incredibly loud and at first I found it hard to believe what I had seen.” Comments Dr Burville.

Researchers have theorised that the loud, high-frequency noise is used as a display of strength, which cuts through background noise to warn off competitors and attract potential mates during breeding season.

“Think of a chest-beating male gorilla, for example. Like seal claps, those chest beats carry two messages: I am strong, stay away; and I am strong, my genes are good,” Says Dr David Hocking from Monash University’s School of Biological Sciences.

He continues: “Human noise pollution is known to interfere with other forms of marine mammal communication, including whale song, but if we do not know a behaviour exists, we cannot easily act to protect it.”

The discovery of this important social behaviour among seals can help scientists and researchers to better understand the animals and work to protect their mating activity and breeding success.

Footage captured by Dr Burville can be seen below:

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Celebrity chefs urge public to get baking to support Cats Protection fundraiser

News Story 1
 In support of Cats Protection's Pawsome Afternoon Tea fundraiser, Masterchef winner Tim Anderson and Great British Bake Off star Kim-Joy have shared biscuit recipes to help keen bakers raise money for needy cats across April.

The celebrity chefs are both cat owners and have said that they hope this fundraiser will help to raise awareness of cats in need and the importance of adopting a cat, rather than buying one.

This is the fourth year Cats Protection has run its Pawsome Afternoon Tea campaign, which encourages people to hold tea parties, bake sales and fundraising events to help raise money for the charity.

To view the recipes and other fundraising resources please visit the Cats Protection website. 

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BEVA offering free membership to vet students

The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) is offering free membership to veterinary students. As part of a new initiative with the aim of encouraging more veterinary professionals into equine practice.

According to BEVA, less than one in ten veterinary students choose to work in equine practice. The association hopes that this initiative will provide insight into the field and the benefits of a career in equine medicine.

Benefits of membership include:
▪ access to a network of nearly 3,000 members
▪ special student rates to attend BEVA Congress
▪ online access to BEVA's Equine Veterinary Education (EVE) journal
▪ free access to the association's online learning platform
▪ free access to BEVA's practical veterinary apps
▪ exclusive discounts on a range of things from cinema tickets to grocery shopping.

BEVA will be releasing a series of short videos over the next few months from BEVA Council members, explaining what inspired them to work in equine practice.

Image (c) BEVA.