Observations of neonate ringed seals, Phoca hispida, after early break-up of the sea ice in Prince Albert Sound, Northwest Territories, Canada, spring 1998
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- Smith, T. & Harwood, L. Polar Biol (2001) 24: 215. doi:10.1007/s003000000198
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In late May 1998, a large area of the land-fast ice in Prince Albert Sound, Northwest Territories bordering the Amundsen Gulf, broke up almost 1 month earlier than usual. In June and July, 92 neonate ringed seals were sampled. Of 50 examined in June 1998, 25 still had remains of their white lanugal pelage. In July, 2 of 42 pups collected still retained some of their white lanugal fur. The pups, with lanugo still showing, were in significantly poorer body condition than their fully moulted cohort members. Mean condition of moulted pups, in June 1998, was higher than that of moulted pups collected in June of 1971, 1972, 1976–1978, and 1993–1997. All indications were that marine productivity was high in June 1998. Fully moulted pups fed more on Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida) than did the smaller pups retaining some lanugal fur. Adult and juvenile seals fed primarily on Arctic cod. Mean lengths of lanugal pups and fully moulted pups in June were lower than predicted using growth equations. This may have resulted from later birth dates or shortened lactation and consequent slower growth, but the causes are not defined.