A review of the status of harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) in the Northeast United States of America

  • Gordon T Waring NOAA Fisheries, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, 166 Water Street, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
  • James R Gilbert Department of Wildlife Ecology, University of Maine, 210 Nutting Hall, Orono, Maine, U.S.A.
  • Dana Belden Office of Naval Research, Marine Mammals & Biological Oceanography Program. One Liberty Center, Code 322 - Rm 1072C, 875 N. Randolph St. Arlington, Virginia, U.S.A.
  • Amy Van Atten NOAA Fisheries, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, 166 Water Street, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
  • Robert A DiGiovanni Jr Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, 467 East Main Street, Riverhead, New York, U.S.A.
Keywords: harbour seals, status, United States

Abstract

We conducted a review of the literature and unpublished databases to describe the distribution, abundance, ecology and status of harbour seals (Phoca vitulina concolor) in U.S. Atlantic waters. The harbour seal is the most abundant and widespread seal species in this area. Since passage of the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, the number of harbour seals observed during the pupping season in this region has increased from about 10,500 animals in 1981 to 38,000 animals in 2001 (uncorrected counts), an average annual rate of 6.6%. This increase has beenrelatively consistent over the 20 years, and there is no indication that the population size has stabilized. Correspondingly, the seasonal distribution has expanded and interactions between seals and anthropogenic activities have increased.
Published
2010-09-01
How to Cite
WaringG. T., GilbertJ. R., BeldenD., Van AttenA., & DiGiovanni JrR. A. (2010). A review of the status of harbour seals (<i>Phoca vitulina</i&gt;) in the Northeast United States of America. NAMMCO Scientific Publications, 8, 191-212. https://doi.org/10.7557/3.2685