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Growth and reproduction in the Icelandic common seal (Phoca vitulina L., 1758)
Hauksson, E. (2006). Growth and reproduction in the Icelandic common seal (Phoca vitulina L., 1758). Mar. Biol. Res. 2(1): 59-73
In: Marine Biology Research. Taylor & Francis: Oslo; Basingstoke. ISSN 1745-1000, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Growth; Reproduction; Phoca vitulina Linnaeus, 1758 [WoRMS]; ANE, Iceland [Marine Regions]; Marine

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  • Hauksson, E.

Abstract
    Length, weight and maturity were studied in relation to age in the common seal (Phoca vitulina vitulina L., 1758), collected during the periods 1979-1983 and 1990-2000 in Icelandic waters. The maximum age of common seal observed was 36 years for females and 30 years for males. For common seal females and males, asymptotic length and weight were 161 cm and 93 kg and 174 cm and 97 kg, respectively, showing slight sexual dimorphism in size. The condition of adult females, measured as fat thickness at the lower end of the sternum, was lower in the period 1979-1983 than in 1990-2000 during June-September, the breeding and mating time of the Icelandic common seal. Males reached sexual maturity between 5 and 7 years, whereas 50% of females did so at age 4 years. Including the length and age interaction term in the logistic regression model for the maturity of females significantly improved it. Thus, body size matters in the onset of maturity. The mean birthing date for the Icelandic common seal was found to be in early June. A comparison of animals collected in the two periods 1979-1983 and 1990-2000 did not show significant differences in growth and the average age of sexual maturity for either males or females. The observed decline of the Icelandic common seal population is most probably caused by increased mortality, due to exploitation and accidental by-catch in gill-nets, rather than a decrease in fecundity.

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