Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NSF-Funded Researchers Track Alaska Seal Migration For The First Time

Date:
October 30, 2001
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
Using a remarkable combination of time-tested hunting knowledge, the application of common-sense ingenuity and high-tech satellite tracking, researchers supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), working with Alaska Native hunters, have captured, electronically tagged, and tracked a ringed seal in its spring migration as it moved northward with the ice of the Chukchi Sea.

Using a remarkable combination of time-tested hunting knowledge, the application of common-sense ingenuity and high-tech satellite tracking, researchers supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), working with Alaska Native hunters, have captured, electronically tagged, and tracked a ringed seal in its spring migration as it moved northward with the ice of the Chukchi Sea.

This is the first time anyone has tracked a ringed seal in open sea ice, and its success has not only increased knowledge about the seal's movements, but also enhanced trust and mutual respect between scientists and custodians of traditional ecological knowledge, according to Gay Sheffield of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG).

"Seal tracking is an important and somewhat unexpected offshoot of a larger NSF project to establish an onshore environmental observatory on Little Diomede Island in the Bering Strait and to encourage the participation of Alaska natives in the research effort," according to Sheffield, who oversees marine mammal sampling and data gathering for the observatory.

Ringed seals are one of the four "ice-associated" species of seals in those waters. The others are bearded, ribbon, and spotted seals.

"In Alaska, the large scale movements of ringed, bearded, and ribbon seals are unknown except in a general sense," said Sheffield. "At this point, the only northern seals in Alaska for which we have had even an inkling of their movements are spotted seals."

The recently tagged seal was captured initially by island residents using what Sheffield described as a "clever and effective" method in which a homemade plywood slide was deployed from a blind to block the animal's escape down its breathing hole in the ice. Scientists then approached the seal on the ice and temporarily glued a tracking device to its fur.

Once released, the animal traveled more than 700 kilometers (400 miles) north during the period it was tracked -- roughly seven weeks last summer -- diving to depths of more than 50 meters (164 feet).

"The great thing is that you have people sharing information and learning together," said Sheffield. "I was working with men who work with and observe these animals on a daily basis. They are the experts on the animal's local behavior and movements. It was a privilege to be able to unite scientific and traditional knowledge to gain a better understanding of ringed seal life history."

The strategic location of the observatory on Little Diomede is expected to permit rapid, flexible collection of chemical, biological and physical data on the transport of nutrient- and organic-rich waters of north Pacific origin into the Arctic Ocean through the narrow Bering Strait.

Researchers at the University of Alaska, the University of Maryland and the University of Tennessee are the principal investigators for the observatory.

"Little Diomede Island is a challenging, but rewarding place to work," said Lee Cooper of the University of Tennessee, the project lead scientist. "I can't think of any community in the United States more remote and isolated, but the support of the local community has eased a lot of our research difficulties. We couldn't have made any significant progress up there without the community's help."

For more information about the observatory on Little Diomede, see: http://arctic.bio.utk.edu/AEO/index.html

From more information about ringed seals from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game see: http://www.state.ak.us/adfg/notebook/marine/rin-seal.htm


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "NSF-Funded Researchers Track Alaska Seal Migration For The First Time." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 October 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/10/011030072918.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2001, October 30). NSF-Funded Researchers Track Alaska Seal Migration For The First Time. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/10/011030072918.htm
National Science Foundation. "NSF-Funded Researchers Track Alaska Seal Migration For The First Time." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/10/011030072918.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

Reuters - US Online Video (July 21, 2014) An endangered black rhino baby is the newest resident at the San Diego Zoo. Sasha Salama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins