Attachment between Harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) mothers and pups


  • *Marine Sciences Research Laboratory, Contribution No. 472.


Behavioural interactions between Harbour seal mothers and pups at Miquelon revealed that the following behaviour of the pup generally ensures that the pair stay together, though the mother takes over this rôle when necessary. This relationship held true when the animals were hauled out on the sandflats, and when they were in the water. Our results imply, contrary to suggestions in the literature, that the pup is able to distinguish its mother from other females. The tendency of the pup to follow its mother is discussed in the context of imprinting as a bonding mechanism.