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Moult and pelage patterns in the Pacific harbour seal Phoca vitulina Stutz, Sherwood S.

Abstract

Phoca vitulina uses a variety of shallow coastal and freshwater habitats, is non-migratory and rarely found more than fifteen miles from shore. The seal possesses a complete mammalian hair system (less the erector pili muscle) consisting of guard hairs, underhairs, sebaceous and sweat glands. The hair provides primarily mechanical protection for the skin rather than insulation against heat loss. A foetal moult, normally intrauterine (except in P. v. largha, which may not be a harbour seal) differs in pattern sequence from the adult moult. The adult moult occurs during August - October for most specimens. There is some moult activity among adults during almost every month of the year. Distribution of two colour patterns, black and common, indicate locations of discrete populations whose existence has management implications.

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