Seal Pup Population Declining in Pribilofs

Alexandra Gutierrez, KUCB – Unalaska

The National Marine Mammal Laboratory has released the results of its most recent Northern fur seal pup count in the Pribilofs, and the survey shows that pup production continues to decline in the region.

Approximately 94,000 pups were born in St. Paul this year, and nearly 18,000 were born in St. George. Pup production has declined about eight percent since 2008, when the survey was last completed.

Rod Towell is a mathematical statistician, and he’s been working on this biannual survey since 1992. He says that the changes to the seal rookeries have been apparent since he started, and that the researchers working on this project weren’t surprised by the lower population numbers this year.

In the 1970s, an estimated 300,000 pups were born in the Pribilofs every year. The cause for the decline in pup production is still unknown.

Scientists will work on the next pup production survey in 2012.

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