ESR 10:159-163 (2009)  -  doi:10.3354/esr00190

Descriptive account of long-term health and behavior of two satellite-tagged captive harbor seals Phoca vitulina

Lisa M. Mazzaro, J. Lawrence Dunn*

Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration, 55 Coogan Blvd. Mystic, Connecticut 06355, USA
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT:  The use of satellite tags to monitor pinnipeds in their natural habitats has become a common practice. However, near-continuous long-term observations of the behavior of tagged animals, the process of tag detachment, and regular close examination of the tagging site to detect any development of tag-induced lesions have not been reported. The present study investigated these issues. Dummy satellite tags were glued to two captive male Pacific harbor seals Phoca vitulina richardsi using mesh or no mesh attachment. Tag attachment and animal health and behavior were monitored during the 8 mo attachment period. No tag-associated changes in animal health or behavior were noted until the tags started to loosen a few days before detachment. We found no differences in the strength or length of attachment associated with mesh or no mesh attachment. There was a small area of superficial skin irritation associated with the mesh attachment due to cracked epoxy rubbing against the seal. Although this was a small pilot study, we concluded that the satellite tag attachment and detachment processes were without significant adverse effect, that the tagged seals’ behavior was not significantly altered, and that it is likely that these findings will hold true for other small phocid seals.


KEY WORDS: Harbor seal · Phoca vitulina · Satellite tags


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Cite this article as: Mazzaro LM, Dunn JL (2009) Descriptive account of long-term health and behavior of two satellite-tagged captive harbor seals Phoca vitulina. Endang Species Res 10:159-163

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