DIFFERENTIAL MOVEMENTS BY HARBOR SEAL PUPS IN CONTRASTING ALASKA ENVIRONMENTS

Authors


  • 2

    Current address: National Marine Mammal Laboratory, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, Washington 98115, U. S. A.

Abstract

Movement patterns of Alaska harbor seal pups were studied using satellite telemetry during 1997–2000. Mean tracking duration was 277.3 d (SD = 105.8) for Tugidak Island pups (n= 26) and 171.2 d (108.3) for Prince William Sound (PWS) pups (n= 27). Movements were similar for males and females and were largely restricted to the continental shelf. Multiple return trips of > 75 km from the natal area and up to ∼3 wk duration were most common, followed by movements restricted to <25 km from the natal area; one way movements from the natal site were rare. Distances moved and home range sizes remained relatively stable or increased gradually from July through winter, then decreased markedly through spring. Monthly movements (maximum distance from tagging location, mean distance from haul-outs to at-sea locations, and home range size) were significantly greater for Tugidak vs. PWS pups. Six of seven pups from each region that traveled farthest and were tracked the longest had returned to their tagging site when their last location was recorded, indicating philopatry or limited dispersal during their first year of life. Seal pups exhibited similar movement patterns in the distinct habitats of the two regions, but differed in the spatial extent of their movements.

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