From 1 to 31 March 2021, we received locations for 4 ringed and 3 spotted seals. Three ringed seals (arrows) were distributed in the Bering Strait region, in the southern Chukchi Sea and the northern Bering Sea. One ringed seal, RS19-02-M (yellow arrow), was located in the northeast Chukchi Sea, roughly 25 miles offshore of Icy Cape. All three spotted seals (circles) were located in the Bering Sea, generally near the ice edge and Navarin Canyon along the Bering Sea shelf break.
These seals were tagged during the summer and fall of 2019. As expected, the primary tags we epoxied to their backs have since fallen off during the annual molt this spring. The locations we are currently receiving are from the SPOT tags we attached to their flippers. Because SPOT tags are attached to their flippers we only receive locations when the seal has hauled out of the water, either on sea ice or land. Sea ice data are courtesy of the U.S. National Ice Center, dated 31 March 2021 (usicecenter.gov/Products/ArcticData).
During this project, seals were tagged in the following locations: Kotzebue Sound, in collaboration with the Native Village of Kotzebue, in 2014; near Koyuk in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018; near Hooper Bay in 2015; near St. Michael in 2015 and 2016; near Scammon Bay in 2016, 2017, and 2018; near Nome in 2016 and 2017; near Utqiaġvik in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019; near Buckland in 2017; and near Nuiqsut in 2017 and 2018. We collaborated with the North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management to tag seals near Utqiaġvik and Nuiqsut. Funding for seal tagging has been provided by BOEM (SPLASH and SPOT tags, Wildlife Computers, Redmond, WA) and the Office of Naval Research (CTD tags, Sea Mammal Research Unit, University of St. Andrews, UK). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Marine Mammal Laboratory provided 14 flipper (SPOT) tags that were deployed on seals. Current maps, archived maps, and additional project information, including the types of tags deployed, and links to updates for our other projects, Ice Seal Biological Monitoring and Harvest Monitoring, can be viewed on our webpage (www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=marinemammalprogram.icesealresearch). Seal research is conducted under NMFS permit #20466 issued to ADF&G and under an approved ADF&G Animal Care and Use Committee Protocol #0027-2019-41.