Movements and behavior of satellite-tagged spotted seals (Phoca largha) in the Bering and Chukchi Seas
Satellite-linked tags were attached to 12 spotted seals (Phoca largha) captured at a coastal lagoon in the eastern Chukchi Sea during August 1991–1993. Movements of seals were tracked for 32–298 days using the Argos system. Of 9,651 total location records obtained, 7,268 were usable. Individual seals were located on 41–96% of the days that tags were operational. During August–November, tagged seals alternated haul-outs at coastal sites lasting 1–304 h with trips to sea of 14–901 h. Coastal haul-outs occurred at 14 sites in western Alaska and eastern Russia. On several trips to sea, seals covered distances of more than 1,000 km. Movement southward from the Chukchi Sea generally began in October, with most of the seals passing through the Bering Strait during November. Seals first hauled out on sea ice in October (Chukchi Sea) or November (Bering Sea), and generally moved southward during October–December as sea-ice coverage increased. Seven seals, whose transmitters were still operating, spent December to June in the Bering Sea region between Kuskokwim Bay and Anadyr Gulf, which corresponded to the location of the ice front. The seals made active east-west movements within the ice front. Spotted seals are unlike other ice-breeding seals in that they regularly use coastal haul-outs during summer and autumn. Compared to the closely related Pacific harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardsi), spotted seals make much longer trips to sea and spend longer continuous periods at their haul-outs during summer and autumn.
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