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Declining sea ice strands baby harp seals
Phys.Org ^ | 07-22-2013 | Staff

Posted on 07/22/2013 10:25:51 AM PDT by Red Badger

Young harp seals off the eastern coast of Canada are at much higher risk of getting stranded than adult seals because of shrinking sea ice cover caused by recent warming in the North Atlantic, according to a Duke University study.

"Stranding rates for the region's adult seals have generally not gone up as sea ice cover has declined; it's the young-of-the-year animals who are stranding (those less than one year old)," said David Johnston, a research scientist at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment.

"And it's not just the weakest pups—those with low genetic diversity and presumably lower ability to adapt to environmental changes—that are stranding," he said. "It appears genetic fitness has little effect on this."

The study, published online this week in the peer-reviewed open-access journal PLoS One, is the first to gauge the relative roles that genetic, environmental and demographic factors such as age and gender may be playing in harp seal stranding rates along the U.S. and Canadian east coasts in recent years.

Harp seals rely on stable winter sea ice as safe platforms to give birth and nurse their young until the pups can swim, hunt and fend off predators for themselves. In years of extremely light ice cover, entire year-classes may be disappearing from the population, Johnston said.

The new study complements a Duke-led study published last year that found seasonal sea ice cover in all four harp seal breeding regions in the North Atlantic has declined by up to 6 percent a decade since 1979, when satellite records of ice conditions in the region began.

To expand upon the earlier study, Johnston and four colleagues at the Duke University Marine Lab compared images of winter ice from 1992 to 2010 in a major whelping region off Canada's east coast, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, with yearly reports of dead harp seal strandings along the U.S. northeast coast that were grouped by gender and estimated age of the seal.

The analysis revealed a significant difference: In years when ice cover was reduced, stranding rates for younger seals rose sharply, even though stranding rates for adult seals remained relatively stable.

The researchers also compared DNA samples from 106 harp seals that had been stranded ashore with those from seals that had accidentally been caught by fishing boats in the region during the same period.

"We used measures of genetic diversity to determine if the dead seals that came ashore were less fit than the presumably healthy ones that had been caught by fishermen, but found no difference," said Thomas Schultz, director of Duke's Marine Conservation Molecular Facility. "The stranded animals appear to have come from a genetically diverse population, and we have no evidence to suggest that genetic fitness played a role in their deaths."

The analysis also showed that male seals stranded more frequently than females during the study period, and that this relationship was strongest during light ice years.

"Our findings demonstrate that sea ice cover and demographic factors have a greater influence on harp seal stranding rates than genetic diversity," said Brianne Soulen, who co-led the study while she was a master's degree student in marine ecology at Duke.

Kristina Cammen, a Duke Ph.D. student who also co-led the study, said the findings "provide more context for what we're seeing in high-latitude species in general. The effects of climate change are acting on younger animals; it's affecting them during the crucial first part of their life."

Dwindling sea ice is leaving vulnerable baby harp seals stranded in greater numbers, according to an analysis by the Duke Marine Lab and the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Credit: Courtesy of IFAW


TOPICS: Canada; Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: globullwarming; polarbear; seal
Well, look on the bright side: At least the Polar Bears won't starve..............
1 posted on 07/22/2013 10:25:51 AM PDT by Red Badger
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To: Red Badger

L

2 posted on 07/22/2013 10:27:33 AM PDT by Lurker (Violence is rarely the answer. But when it is it is the only answer.)
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To: Red Badger
Dwindling sea ice

Does anybody other than whiny eco-freaks use the word "dwindling"?

3 posted on 07/22/2013 10:27:47 AM PDT by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilization is Aborting, Buggering, and Contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: Red Badger

Uh, it’s summer. Ice sometimes melts in the summer. Besides, how much time do these seals spend playin’ the harp anyway? We talking harmonicas? Looks like a case for “Club Seal”.


4 posted on 07/22/2013 10:28:18 AM PDT by rktman (Inergalactic background checks? King hussein you're first up.)
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To: Red Badger

And why can’t those cameramen swoop down and save them?


5 posted on 07/22/2013 10:28:22 AM PDT by Slyfox (Without the Right to Life, all other rights are meaningless.)
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To: Red Badger

Probably total BS. Scare tactics again.


6 posted on 07/22/2013 10:29:07 AM PDT by b4its2late (A Liberal is a person who will give away everything he doesn't own.)
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To: Red Badger

Well little baby harp seals...you should have been paying attention during swimming class — Circle of life...


7 posted on 07/22/2013 10:29:21 AM PDT by areukiddingme1 (areukiddingme1 is a synonym for a Retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer and tired of liberal BS.))
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To: Red Badger

Minorities and poor are hurt first.


8 posted on 07/22/2013 10:29:35 AM PDT by Venturer
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To: Red Badger

A fact about seals apparently unknown to this writer. They’re aquatic mammals and superb swimmers.


9 posted on 07/22/2013 10:30:15 AM PDT by katana (Just my opinions)
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To: areukiddingme1

Grey Seal
Songwriters: JOHN, ELTON / TAUPIN, BERNIE

Why’s it never light on my lawn
Why does it rain and never say good-day to the new-born
On the big screen they showed us the sun
But not as bright in life as the real one
It’s never quite the same as the real one

And tell me grey seal
How does it feel
To be so wise
To see through eyes
That only see what’s real
Tell me grey seal

I never learned why meteors were formed
I only farmed in schools that were so warn and torn
If anyone can cry then so can I
I read books and draw life from the eye
All my life is drawings from the eye

Your mission bells were wrought by ancient men
The roots were formed by twisted roots
Your roots were twisted then
I was re-born before all life could die
The Phoenix bird will leave this world to fly
If the Phoenix bird can fly then so can I


10 posted on 07/22/2013 10:32:09 AM PDT by Red Badger (Want to be surprised? Google your own name......Want to have fun? Google your friend's names........)
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To: Red Badger

**low genetic diversity**

Diversity?


11 posted on 07/22/2013 10:32:46 AM PDT by Gamecock (Member: NAACAC)
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To: Red Badger

the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) just jizzed their proverbial shorts. The little harp seals are going to be Polar Bear food! YAY! /s


12 posted on 07/22/2013 10:33:37 AM PDT by IllumiNaughtyByNature ($1.84 - The price of a gallon of gas on Jan. 20th, 2009.)
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To: Red Badger

Makes this easier too.

13 posted on 07/22/2013 10:34:04 AM PDT by from occupied ga (Your government is your most dangerous enemy)
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To: Slyfox
And why can’t those cameramen swoop down and save them?

Ding ding ding! We have a winner!

14 posted on 07/22/2013 10:34:54 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
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To: Red Badger

15 posted on 07/22/2013 10:36:00 AM PDT by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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To: dead

Please, I’m eating Lunch!.....................


16 posted on 07/22/2013 10:36:46 AM PDT by Red Badger (Want to be surprised? Google your own name......Want to have fun? Google your friend's names........)
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To: Slyfox
And why can’t those cameramen swoop down and save them?

The only goal of the media is advancing the liberal agenda. Leaving the suddenly-can't-swim seals to die is better for advancing the agenda.

17 posted on 07/22/2013 10:37:38 AM PDT by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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To: katana
Harp seals spend relatively little time on land and prefer to swim ...

Opening line on National Geographic bio of the Harp Seal...

18 posted on 07/22/2013 10:39:00 AM PDT by IllumiNaughtyByNature ($1.84 - The price of a gallon of gas on Jan. 20th, 2009.)
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To: Red Badger

At least they won’t be clubbed (or as it is known in the hood “the knockout game”)


19 posted on 07/22/2013 10:39:21 AM PDT by Starstruck (With Government nothing ever changes............for the better.)
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To: Gamecock

Great new term: low genetic diversity. I assume that is what is happening in the ghetto...... (just read the article on the loose dog who fathered 22 children to 14 women in Nashville - beginning when he was 15. He, of course, does NOT support any of them - we do.)


20 posted on 07/22/2013 10:49:48 AM PDT by WhyisaTexasgirlinPA
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To: Red Badger

Where is the picture of the Kennedy granddaughter shooting seals?


21 posted on 07/22/2013 10:51:47 AM PDT by Mastador1 (I'll take a bad dog over a good politician any day!)
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To: from occupied ga

Except for the grip, his form looks pretty good.


22 posted on 07/22/2013 10:54:52 AM PDT by shove_it (long ago Orwell and Rand warned us about 0bama's America)
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To: Red Badger

This is total BS.


23 posted on 07/22/2013 10:58:38 AM PDT by ThomasMore (Islam is the Whore of Babylon!)
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To: Slyfox

Because if the cameramen DID swoop down to ‘save’ them they would immediately dive into the water and swim home

They are not ‘stuck’ here

Besides, I am sure some nice whale will come along soon and ‘rescue’ them


24 posted on 07/22/2013 11:00:25 AM PDT by Mr. K (There are lies, damned lies, statistics, and democrat talking points.)
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To: Red Badger

“.....with low genetic diversity....”


Well, now it becomes a racist issue.


25 posted on 07/22/2013 11:00:50 AM PDT by DH (Once the tainted finger of government touches anything the rot begins)
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To: Red Badger

http://www.c3headlines.com/arcticgreenlandantarcticglacierssea-ice/


26 posted on 07/22/2013 11:02:43 AM PDT by ThomasMore (Islam is the Whore of Babylon!)
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To: Red Badger

Survival of the fittest is a bitch.


27 posted on 07/22/2013 11:06:19 AM PDT by beethovenfan (If Islam is the solution, the "problem" must be freedom.)
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To: shove_it

gotta knock those seal brains outta the park


28 posted on 07/22/2013 11:17:37 AM PDT by from occupied ga (Your government is your most dangerous enemy)
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To: from occupied ga

I don’t drink beer all the time, but when I do, I prefer drinking dos equis while clubbing baby seals to death.

stay thirsty my friends


29 posted on 07/22/2013 11:18:06 AM PDT by bigtoona
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To: Slyfox
And why can’t those cameramen swoop down and save them?

It would be a violation of The Prime Directive; the Federation would send them to a prison planet.

30 posted on 07/22/2013 11:39:17 AM PDT by ApplegateRanch (Love me, love my guns!©)
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To: Red Badger

OHHHH NOOOOOO, those POOOR Baby SEALS!!!!!

club ‘em. Eat ‘em.


31 posted on 07/22/2013 11:43:24 AM PDT by joethedrummer
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To: Red Badger
The analysis also showed that male seals stranded more frequently than females during the study period,

It's nature's way of weeding out excess males, without affecting overall reproductive capacity of the population; it also allows food (fish) stocks to recover from predation by an oversized herd.

(SARCASM ALERT!) HARP (Humans Against Rampant Protectionism) released the following explanation in response to this study:
All those dark, basking bodies of the increasing population of adult seals both radiate body heat, and absorb solar heat the ice would otherwise reflect, causing increased early ice melt....

32 posted on 07/22/2013 11:50:14 AM PDT by ApplegateRanch (Love me, love my guns!©)
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