University of Grytviken Demonstrates How Elephant Seals Perform Behavioural Analysis in South Georgia

The University of Grytviken has, today, published its latest research into how elephant seals are performing behavioural analysis to control access to South Georgia’s main seaport.

Approximately 54% of the world population of southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina) breed in South Georgia and, in order to secure their territory, they engage in racial profiling to fend off intruders, especially from the penguin colonies. But, fortunately, it’s not only racial profiling – which we obviously reject – that they engage in; it’s also use of neuro-linguistic programming that involves their analysing strategies used by their peers and the way such patterns of behaviour enable them to achieve the best security outcomes.

As any researcher into the field of behavioural analytics will be aware, it’s not only elephant seals that have been studied. Last year, a team from South Africa’s University of Lalalaand shared their research into the way in which common warthogs (Phacochoerus africanus) used microexpressions to determine whether, during their courtship dance, a potential mate was lying about its ability to provide a secure home for the target of its affections.

As another example, and to provide a more historical perspective, in the early 1800s Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) were used to screen former British convicts who had been transported to Van Diemen’s Land. Reportedly, although obviously not the subject of tertiary level academic research, the creatures were deployed at the entrance to penal colonies as their gut reaction, rather than sense of smell, was indicative of a convict having consumed beer (from the nearby Cascade Brewery), as any opportunist would, whilst working in a chain-gang in the fields. Their ability to sense abnormal patterns of behaviour can be regarded as a precursor to intelligent CCTV.

The University of Grytviken is championing its forensic psychology programme and is pleased to announce that a significant percentage of Grytviken’s permanent residents are so enamoured by the course that they have enrolled. Who would believe that Grytviken, being the capital of South Georgia – part of the British Overseas Territory of South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands – could become a world-leading research centre for human behavioural analysis?

Then again, as the university’s departmental head, Prof. April Phool, points out, “It’s only by studying the latest research into profiling that we can address the threats of the future.” The university is not able to make the trip to the University of Northampton (which is itself launching a forensic psychology degree course this year) to present its findings at the Behavioural Analysis 2022 conference but it would encourage others to do so. They point out that the presentation entitled, ‘Common fallacies relating to behavioural analysis’, given by An Gaiser, should be of particular interest. Myth-busting is certainly one of the conference’s core objectives.

Furthermore, if you are supportive of the idea that Behavioural Analysis 2023 should take place in Grytviken, please email the event organisers at to explain why, whether you would agree to present yourself and suggest how best to transport the delegates to South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands next July.

by Philip Baum

Readers of this article will receive an additional 5% discount if they register for the Behavioural Analysis 2022 before 1200 today. Simply add the code GRYTVIKEN to the promotional code box on the booking form.

Friday 1 April 2022