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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The timing of moulting in wild and captive steller sea lions (eumetopias jubatus) Daniel, Raychelle G.


I documented the timing and progression of the moult by sex and age class in a wild population of Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) on Lowrie Island, Alaska (Jul-Nov 2001) and from captive animals at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre (1993-2000). In the wild, juveniles (ages 1-2 years) were the first to moult followed by adult females, bulls and pups. The mean date when juveniles started their moult was 21 Jun which was significantly different from the mean start date of 07 Aug for adult females, and differed from the mean start date for pups of 01 Sep (one month later). Mean completion dates were also about one month apart (19 Sept for juveniles, 26 Oct for adult females and 17 Nov for pups). Duration of the moult was about 45 days for each age group (pups and adult females). However, duration of the moult for captive sea lions was longer (averaging 83.5 days) and differed among years and within age classes. Patterns of hair loss in the wild (i.e., the progression of the moult over the body surface) differed among (i) pups, (ii) juveniles and early moulting adult females, and (iii) bulls and later moulting adult females. Differences in the timing and progression of the moult may be related to physiological changes and interactions of hormones associated with body condition and the reproductive cycle.

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