Date of Award
Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Biology and University Honors
This research proposal aims to highlight the quantitative and qualitative impact of human disturbances Pacific Harbor Seals (Phocca vitulina) are experiencing in urban southern Puget Sound, Washington and how the data collected can educate the community to protect and conserve a healthy population of Harbor Seals. Urbanization and areas utilized by harbor seals within urban settings prompted data collection from four nearby sites: site A, Carylon Beach, includes pedestrian and boat disturbances, site B, Tacoma Tidal Flats, only experience boat disturbances, site C, West Bay Marina, experiences motorized and non-motorized boat disturbances and site D, Gertrude Island, is a private island with no pedestrian or boat disturbances and will act as a control. Site D, however, does include natural predators. Data will be collected during breeding season (July-September) at various times throughout the day, four times a week, using fifteen-minute intervals of scan sampling over the course of 3 hours, and will include observations of male and female adult and pup behaviors. Environmental factors, seal counts, disturbance information, and behavioral ethograms will be used to document observations. This data will be analyzed through descriptive and inferential statistical analysis. The goal is to better understand the levels of disturbance/harassment and their effects on seal pupping within urban settings. Results of this work will be used to direct education efforts at these and similar sites throughout inland waters to help mitigate negative interactions between humans and wildlife.
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Gomez, Vicky P., "Human Impact on Pacific Harbor Seals in Urban Southern Puget Sound, Washington" (2021). University Honors Theses. Paper 1059.
Available for download on Monday, November 14, 2022