MOVEMENTS OF SATELLITE-TAGGED SUBADULT AND ADULT HARBOR SEALS IN PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND, ALASKA

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Abstract

Satellite-linked tags were attached to 49 subadult and adult harbor seals captured in Prince William Sound (PWS), Alaska, and their movements were monitored during 1992–1997. Seals were tracked for a total of 5,517 seal-days and were located on about 80% of the days that tags transmitted. Most locations were in or near PWS, but some juvenile seals moved 300–500 km east and west into the Gulf of Alaska. While several seals travelled to 50–100 km offshore, virtually all locations were in water <200 m deep. Overall, juvenile seals moved more than adults and had larger home ranges. Movements were significantly affected by month, and age by month and sex by month interactions. In all months, mean distances between successively used haulouts were <10 km for adults and <20 km for juveniles. Mean monthly home ranges varied from <100 km2 to >1,500 km2, and were smallest during June-July. Mean haul-out to at-sea distance was 5–10 km for adults and generally 10–25 km for juveniles. Satellite-linked tags provided an effective means of monitoring and describing the full range of harbor seal movements in this region, with the exception of late summer when tags were shed during the molt.

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