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- Survival probabilities and movements of harbor seals in central California
- Article in Press, Harbor seal numbers and population trajectories differ by location in central California. Within San Francisco Bay (SFB) counts have been relatively stable since the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act, but in coastal areas like Tomales Bay (TB), counts increased before stabilizing in the 1990s. Emigration, poor survival, and environmental effects have been hypothesized as contributors to differences between trajectories; however, basic demographic data were not available to evaluate these hypotheses. We monitored 32 radio-tagged adult females (SFB n = 17, TB n = 15) for 20 mo (2011-2013), and estimated survival, resight, and movement probabilities using mark-resight analyses and multistate mark-resight models. Annual survival probability for both sites was 0.90 (95% CI = 0.18-0.99). Six seals were observed moving between locations resulting in an estimated probability of 0.042 (95% CI = 0.023-0.076) per month equal movement between sites. Resight probability was less in SFB relative to TB, likely due to differential haul-out access, area surveyed, visibility, and resight effort. Because of wide confidence intervals and low precision of these first estimates of adult female harbor seal survival in California, this demographic must be further examined to dismiss its contribution to differing population trajectories. Using aerial survey data, we estimated 950 harbor seals in SFB (95% CI = 715-1,184) confirming numbers are still stable.
- Manugian, Greig, Lee, Becker, Allen, Lowry, Harvey
- Dynamics of vibrio with virulence genes detected in Pacific harbor seals (Phoca vitulina richardii) off California: Implications for marine mammal health
- Given their coastal site fidelity and opportunistic foraging behavior, harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) may serve as sentinels for coastal ecosystem health. Seals using urbanized coastal habitat can acquire enteric bacteria, including Vibrio that may affect their health. To understand Vibrio dynamics in seals, demographic and environmental factors were tested for predicting potentially virulent Vibrio in free-ranging and stranded Pacific harbor seals (Phoca vitulina richardii) off California. Vibrio prevalence did not vary with season and was greater in free-ranging seals (29 %, n = 319) compared with stranded seals (17 %, n = 189). Of the factors tested, location, turbidity, and/or salinity best predicted Vibrio prevalence in free-ranging seals. The relationship of environmental factors with Vibrio prevalence differed by location and may be related to oceanographic or terrestrial contributions to water quality. Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Vibrio alginolyticus, and Vibrio cholerae were observed in seals, with V. cholerae found almost exclusively in stranded pups and yearlings. Additionally, virulence genes (trh and tdh) were detected in V. parahaemolyticus isolates. Vibrio cholerae isolates lacked targeted virulence genes, but were hemolytic. Three out of four stranded pups with V. parahaemolyticus (trh+ and/or tdh+) died in rehabilitation, but the role of Vibrio in causing mortality is unclear, and Vibrio expression of virulence genes should be investigated. Considering that humans share the environment and food resources with seals, potentially virulent Vibrio observed in seals also may be of concern to human health. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York., Marine Mammals, Birds & Turtles Harbor Seals, CODEN: MCBEB
- Hughes, Greig, Miller, Byrne, Gulland, Harvey