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Age and sex differences in the timing of moult in the common seal, Phoca vitulina

Authors

  • P. Thompson,

    Corresponding author
    1. Sea Mammal Research Unit High Cross, Madingle Road, Cambridge, CB3 GET
      *Also Zoology Department, University of Aberdeen
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  • P. Rothery

    Corresponding author
    1. Sea Mammal Research Unit High Cross, Madingle Road, Cambridge, CB3 GET
      **c/o British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge, CB3 GET
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**c/o British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge, CB3 GET

*Also Zoology Department, University of Aberdeen

Abstract

This study followed the progress of the annual moult within a population of common seals in Orkney, Scotland. Moulting seals were seen over a three-month period, from 7 June until 16 September. Yearlings were first to start moulting. Amongst older seals, females completed their moult an average of seven days earlier than immature males and 19 days earlier than mature males. Differences in the timing of moult appeared to be related to the age or reproductive status of the animals, and may be the result of differential changes in levels of the sex hormones.

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