“Flippers for Feet” – Pinnipeds of the NW

  • Fri Apr 4th, 2008 1:49am
  • News

A harbor seal with a satellite tracking device on its head and time depth dive recorder on its back. The transmitters are glued on and fall off after about 10 months of use.

On Tuesday, April 8, at 7 p.m. Dr. Peter Olesiuk of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada will discuss the five species of seals and sea lions that frequent the region’s marine waters. Olesiuk, a Research Biologist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, is Head of Seal and Sea Lion Research Programs in Pacific Region. He works out of the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo, B.C. His lecture is part of the Orcas Island Marine Science Lecture Series.

San Juan County is home to approximately 7,000 harbor seals; almost one seal for every two humans that reside in the county. Olesiuk will describe the fascinating life history of harbor seals and will present data from a recent project that is using satellite tracking devices to dispel previous misconceptions about how far individual harbor seals travel.

“Dr. Olesiuk has been studying seals, sea lions and other marine mammals for 25 years and has stories that will make people view these common marine mammals in awe,” says Joe Gaydos, Regional Director of the SeaDoc Society.

In addition to harbor seals, the Pacific Northwest is also home to elephant seals, fur seals, California sea lions and Steller sea lions. In the winter, male Steller sea lions can regularly be seen near Spieden Island or Whale Rocks. The largest of the “eared” seals, Stellers can weigh over 2,000 pounds which is larger than a grizzly bear, Elephant seals, rebounding from near extinction, also are sighted in the region with increasing regularity.

These giant “earless” seals have been recorded to dive almost a mile deep and spend more of their life at sea under water than above water.

This is the final lecture of the 2007/08 season in Orcas Island’s marine science lecture series designed for the general public. The program begins at 7 p.m. at the Camp Orkila Marine Salmon Center and is free. Visitors are asked to park in the upper parking lot at Camp Orkila. Shuttle service from the parking lot to the talk is available before and after the lecture.

The 2007-2008 Marine Science Lecture Series is presented by program partners The SeaDoc Society (www.seadocsociety.org) and YMCA Camp Orkila (www.seattleymca.org). It has been made possible through the generous support of Tom Averna / Deer Harbor Charters, Barbara Brown, The Gould Family Foundation and David and Virginia Ridgway.