Harbor Seals and Sea Lions

Seal with pup - small Harbor Seal female with pup (photo by Tim Bray)

Our guest on Tuesday June 24, 2014 was Dr. James Harvey, Director of the Moss Landing Marine Laboratory.  He spoke mainly about Harbor Seals, who are much more fascinating and complex animals than we knew before this show!  Although Harbor Seals are quite commonly seen along our coasts, much of their social behavior takes place under water and has only recently been observed by humans.  We learned of male territorial defense, a phenomenon discovered by Dr. Harvey’s research team; the year-long gestation with a three-month “pause” in development; and the curious behavior of males when establishing dominance, among many other insights.

Sea Lions, the other common pinniped along our coast, are equally fascinating and surprisingly different in many ways, despite the shared habitat and physical similarity.  The differential migration of males and females post-breeding, and the probable reason why they do it, highlighted the amazing complexity of evolutionary adaptation.  Dr. Harvey also told us a great story about his research into how Sea Lions follow salmon trollers and take fish from the lines.

It was a captivating discussion, ranging from fecal matter and fish ear-bones to the effects of El Nino events.   We hope to have Dr. Harvey return to our show next year when the Gray Whales are migrating, so he can tell us about those amazing creatures as well.

The complete show is available for streaming or downloading here.  Enjoy!

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About Tim

Host for Oak and Thorn on the first and third Sundays of every month, and The Ecology Hour on the fourth Tuesday of every month. Oak & Thorn aims to present the widest possible spectrum of Celtic music, from traditional to contemporary styles, along with information about history and culture. The Ecology Hour- Science Edition (co-hosted with Bob Spies) presents recent scientific findings about the natural world and our place in it. My other interests include brewing, gardening, birding, cooking, woodworking, and history. I live on Middle Ridge in Albion, California, among wonderful neighbors.
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