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Ambio. 2005 Dec;34(8):628-34.

Photo-identification, site fidelity, and movement of female gray seals (Halichoerus grypus) between haul-outs in the Baltic Sea.

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  • 1Museum of Natural History, Stockholm, Sweden.


The growing gray seal population in the Baltic Sea has led to increased conflicts with fisheries. Despite limited data on gray seal ecology, management measures, such as culling, have been implemented recently. We studied movements and site fidelity of Baltic gray seals using mark-recapture analysis based on photographic identification of individuals (photo-id). Seals were photographed at the major summer haul-out sites. Profile photographs of the head and neck were matched using purpose-written software to generate a database of capture histories from 1995-2000. The haul-outs were grouped into seven areas. Darroch's method (20) for a two-sample capture-recapture census was adapted to estimate rates of movement between the areas. The majority of seals were estimated to remain within the same area, suggesting that Baltic gray seals exhibit a high degree of site fidelity during the summer, and that fidelity to a site lasts for more than one season.

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