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East coast begins first mission to tag gray seals

Seal populations are growing along the coast and scientists want to study them more.  A colony of gray seals frolic in the Cape Cod  National Sea Shore at Head of the Meadow Beach. (Photo by Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images) Seal populations are growing along the coast and scientists want to study them more. A colony of gray seals frolic in the Cape Cod National Sea Shore at Head of the Meadow Beach. (Photo by Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Researchers hope to tag seven gray seals this week off Chatham and Wellfleet, the Cape Cod Times reports.

Hoping to learn more about the animals, the seal-tagging mission will be the first for the east coast.

"We hope it will give us a better understanding of the ecology of gray seals in the Cape Cod area," Gordon Waring, the National Marine Fisheries Service seal expert and chief scientist for this project, told the Times.

The tags cost $5,000 each and will record water temperature, depth and location.

The seals aren't favored by everyone, however. With an increasing number of shark sightings off the coast, many blame the seals for attracting the creatures to area beaches. Shark sightings have already begun for the season, and are expected to continue.

“We had a number of sightings last year, some confirmed, some unconfirmed,” Orleans harbormaster Dawson Farber told ABCNews.com. “We are operating under the assumption these animals are here to stay.”

The seals are also trouble for fishermen, who blame the animals for eating commercially valuable fish.

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