Project Methods and Field Activities June 2011
A team from the Native Village of Kotzebue (NVK) and the NOAA National Marine Mammal Laboratory (NMML) worked from June 14 – June 22, 2011 to tag ugruks (bearded seals) in Kotzebue Sound . Two females and one male were tagged with satellite location transmitters. Based on their size and dentition, we estimated that one of the females is a yearling and the other female and the male are 2-3 years old. The initial movement pattern of the male sub-adult tagged in 2011 was very similar to the patterns displayed by the two sub-adult males tagged in 2009. The two females, however traveled much farther from the coast, preferring to occupy the central Chukchi Sea . In the fall, all seals began moving south with the advancing ice and by December all had passed into the Bering Sea . Again, all seals tagged in 2011 routinely dove to the seafloor. In autumn, the females occupied areas of deeper water (50-150 m) than the males (approx. 50 m), and their dives were of longer duration (8-16 vs. 6-10 minutes). In the winter however, when both sexes occupied water less than 50m, dive duration was about 6-10 minutes for all seals. All tags are still currently working and we will continue to report on the seal movements. A field effort is currently planned for Kotzebue Sound and the NSB in 2012.