Overview

Distribution

occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Western North America, from the central-west coast of Baja, Mexico to the Aleutian Islands, Alaska (Shaughnessy and Fay 1977).

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Physical Description

Diagnostic Description

Distinguished from P. (VITULINA) LARGHA by: 1. Ecological habits - LARGHA is primarily associated with the ice pack, P. V. RICHARDSI is coastal. 2. Color - LARGHA is primarily pale with small blackish spots; Richardsi has two phases (pale and dark) the pale phase differiented by usually having some whitish rings on the back. 3. Cranial measurements - RICHARDSI skulls tend to be broader and more massive than LARGHA skulls with mostly obliquely-set premolars (LARGHA premolars are mostly straight-set). The length of the nasal-premaxillary contact is mostly less than 3 mm in RICHARDSI and greater than 3 mm in LARGHA (Shaughnessy and Fay 1977).

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Type Information

Type for Phoca vitulina richardii
Catalog Number: USNM 83223
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Mammals
Sex/Stage: Female; Adult
Preparation: Skin; Skull; Skeleton
Collector(s): C. Townsend
Locality: Saint Paul Island, Pribilof Islands, Alaska, United States, Bering Sea, North America, North Pacific Ocean
  • Type: Allen, J. A. 1902. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 16: 495.
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Type for Phoca vitulina richardii
Catalog Number: USNM A3648
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Mammals
Sex/Stage: Unknown; Young adult
Preparation: Skull
Collector(s): Collector Unknown
Locality: Deception Island, South Shetland Islands, Weddell Sea, South Atlantic Ocean
  • Type: Peale, T. R. 1848. Mammalia and Ornithology. United States Exploring Expedition during the years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842 under the command of Charles Wilkes, U.S.N. 8: 30, pl. 31.
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Type for Phoca vitulina richardii
Catalog Number: USNM 81520
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Mammals
Sex/Stage: Male; Adult
Preparation: Skin; Skull
Collector(s): A. Anthony
Year Collected: 1896
Locality: San Geronimo Island [= Isla San Jeronimo], Baja California, Mexico, North America, North Pacific Ocean
  • Type: Allen, J. A. 12 Dec 1902 . Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 16: 495.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat Type: Marine

Comments: See record for P. VITULINA.

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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300

Comments: Hundreds of haulouts.

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Global Abundance

10,000 to >1,000,000 individuals

Comments: See record for P. VITULINA.

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: T5 - Secure

Reasons: Large range in the North Pacific Ocean; recent precipitous decline in some populations, steady increases in others; suspected threats include food shortages resulting from local fisheries management practices, incidental and intentional take, disease and entanglement in marine debris.

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Threats

Degree of Threat: B : Moderately threatened throughout its range, communities provide natural resources that when exploited alter the composition and structure of the community over the long-term, but are apparently recoverable

Comments: See record for P. VITULINA.

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Management

Biological Research Needs: Current research needs include: 1. Range-wide monitoring of population abundance and trends in harbor seals and other sympatric marine mammals. 2. Analysis of the potential causes of population declines including competition for food with commercial fisheries, incidental and intentional take, disease, toxic substances, entanglement in marine debris, and disturbance 3. Regional research on global atmospheric and oceanic changes and their impacts on marine ecosystems, particularly in the Bering Sea. 4. Long-term viability and recovery studies.

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Global Protection: Many to very many (13 to >40) occurrences appropriately protected and managed

Needs: Minimize all incidental take and disturbance. Eliminate drift-net fisheries that occur in seal feeding and movement areas. Regulate fisheries take of fish resources known to be important to the maintenance of healthy seal populations.

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Because geographic variation appears to be clinal, nominal subspecies of harbor seals in the North Pacific are of dubious validity (Reeves et al. 1992).

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