Northern Fur Seals and The Pribilofs, Part 4

fur seals in rookerySeattle Aquarium mammal biologist Julie Carpenter recently assisted scientists from NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) with their pup count, which happens every two years in the Pribilof Islands, Alaska. The Pribilofs are home to the largest breeding colonies (or rookeries) of northern fur seals in the world, representing over half of the world’s northern fur seal population. Collaborating on the research and participating in it side-by-side with the field researchers provided Julie with firsthand experience and knowledge about the research techniques and technical challenges involved in working with the wild northern fur seal population—making her uniquely suited to bring a deeper understanding of this work back to the staff and visitors of the Seattle Aquarium. Through this cooperative relationship, our hope is to continue to educate people about the critical population studies being conducted in these far-off islands and the many issues surrounding the Pribilof fur seals. Learn about Julie’s experience in the Pribilof Islands in this four-part blog series.

Part 1: The long wait for St. Paul, Alaska (Days 1–5)

Part 2: The long wait for St. Paul, Alaska is over! Pup shearing begins (Days 6-8)

Part 3: Beach combing (Days 8–10)

Part 4: Goodbye Pribilofs
Days 11–12

Today we began cleanup and prepared to head home. By studying northern fur seals, NMFS scientists are continuing to learn about the species, why this population continues to decline, and what can be done to preserve it. Participating in this northern fur seal pup count, along with my amazing experiences last fall tagging and learning about disease and overall health of the population, has given me priceless experiences and knowledge. I can’t wait to share it with the Seattle Aquarium staff and its visitors as well as use this knowledge when working with the northern fur seals in our care. Thank you for this amazing opportunity!

I’d like to thank the crew: Rod, Carey, Jason, Juan, Bobette, Sara, Tim, Sean, Patty, Bob, Jeremy, Jim, Mike, Katie and Jeff. I had an incredible time and hope to return soon!

The work described here was authorized under Marine Mammal  Permit No. 14327 issued to the National Marine Mammal Laboratory, AFSC, NMFS.

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