• harbor seal;
  • Phoca vitulina;
  • Oregon;
  • generalized logistic;
  • optimum sustainable population;
  • maximum net productivity level;
  • carrying capacity;
  • trend;
  • status


The distribution and abundance of harbor seals (Phoca vitulina richardii) in Oregon were monitored from 1977 to 2003 by aerial photographic surveys. Harbor seals on shore were counted each year during the reproductive period. Mean annual counts of non-pups (adults and subadults) were used as an index of population size and the trend in the counts was modeled using exponential (density-independent) and generalized logistic (density-dependent) growth models. Models were fit using maximum likelihood and evaluated using Akaike's Information Criterion. The population dynamics of harbor seals in Oregon were best described by the generalized logistic model. The population grew following protection under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 until stabilizing in the early 1990s. The estimated absolute abundance of harbor seals (all age classes) during the 2002 reproductive period was 10,087 individuals (95% confidence interval was 8,445–12,046 individuals). The current predicted population size for harbor seals in Oregon is above its estimated maximum net productivity level and hence within its optimum sustainable population range. We speculate that recent increases in ocean productivity in the eastern Pacific Ocean may lead to an increase in carrying capacity and renewed growth in Oregon's harbor seal population.