Marine Mammals on Ecology Hour
Our guest on Tuesday June 24, 2014 was Dr. James Harvey, Director of the Moss Landing Marine Laboratory. He spoke mainly about Harbor Seals, who are much more fascinating and complex animals than we knew before this show! Although Harbor Seals are quite commonly seen along our coasts, much of their social behavior takes place under water and has only recently been observed by humans. We learned of male territorial defense, a phenomenon discovered by Dr. Harvey’s research team; the year-long gestation with a three-month “pause” in development; and the curious behavior of males when establishing dominance, among many other insights.
Sea Lions, the other common pinniped along our coast, are equally fascinating and surprisingly different in many ways, despite the shared habitat and physical similarity. The differential migration of males and females post-breeding, and the probable reason why they do it, highlighted the amazing complexity of evolutionary adaptation. Dr. Harvey also told us a great story about his research into how Sea Lions follow salmon trollers and take fish from the lines.
It was a captivating discussion, ranging from fecal matter and fish ear-bones to the effects of El Nino events. We hope to have Dr. Harvey return to our show next year when the Gray Whales are migrating, so he can tell us about those amazing creatures as well.
The complete program is available here.