Fur Seal Research

Dr. Rolf R. Ream
Zoologist, National Marine Mammal Lab

Recorded on July 14, 2003


Well, this time of year, the northern fur seals come back to land to pup and breed, and right now is about the peak of pupping and shortly followed by breeding.

During this time is when we try to get counts of adult males and we count them into three different catergories, territorial males with females, territorial males without females, and non-territorial adult males.

The data's been collected since the early 1900s and is one of the means of monitoring the population. It's very rare to have a long-term data set that runs for such a long time period on a large, wild mammal like this.

So it is valuable in that sense, but it also provides us a means of monitoring changes in the population and beyond that, we're, of course, very interested in any projects that give us an idea of where animals are going to forage, what types of things they are eating.

So we've been doing a lot of satellite telemetry with these animals during the summer months while they're on island and foraging, as well as we've started to do some work on migration routes by tagging the animals in the fall.

The majority of them went down off the coast of Washington, Oregon, California, although some stayed far out at sea north of Hawaii, about six hundred miles north of Hawaii, somewhere out in the middle of the ocean.