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The lives of harbor seals through observation, instrumentation, and mud-wrestling

Jim Harvey, Ph.D.
Moss Landing Marine Laboratories

Wednesday, June 14, 2000
3:00 p.m.—Pacific Forum

Harbor seals are one of the most abundant and conspicuous marine mammals. Researchers at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories have been studying harbor seal ecology since 1975 and recently have used new techniques for capturing, handling, tagging, recording underwater behaviors, and tracking individuals. Using time-depth-recorders and VHF tags, we know harbor seals in Monterey Bay dive greater than 500 m depth for greater than 20 minutes and typically feed in the northern portion of the bay. During autumn and winter they eat octopus, market squid, and spotted cuskeels, whereas in spring and summer they consume more rockfishes, white croaker, and flatfishes. Adult males make long duration, low-frequency calls that attract subservient males, possibly a mechanism for determining and maintaining hierarchies. The young pups disperse widely after weaning and quickly develop diving skills. The talk will include video of underwater behaviors and data regarding other facets of harbor seal biology (e.g. genetics, physiology, reproduction, and population structure).

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Last updated: December 19, 2000