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Human Impacts on Seals, Sea Lions, and Sea OttersIntegrating Archaeology and Ecology in the Northeast Pacific$
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Todd Braje

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780520267268

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520267268.001.0001

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Neoglacial Sea Ice and Life History Flexibility in Ringed and Fur Seals

Neoglacial Sea Ice and Life History Flexibility in Ringed and Fur Seals

Chapter:
(p.65) 4 Neoglacial Sea Ice and Life History Flexibility in Ringed and Fur Seals
Source:
Human Impacts on Seals, Sea Lions, and Sea Otters
Author(s):

Susan J. Crockford

Gay S. Frederick

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520267268.003.0004

Ringed seals and fur seals inhabit the Bering Sea portion of the North Pacific Coast. This chapter provides evidence that Neoglacial sea ice expansion pushed Bering Sea populations of pack ice-breeding ringed and bearded seals south as far as the eastern Aleutians and kept them there until early summer, making these Arctic-adapted species easily accessible to ancient Aleut hunters. Extensive pack ice development would also have made the Pribilof Islands unsuitable as early summer pupping grounds for fur seals, forcing them to establish rookeries away from ice-covered waters and icy winds. These conclusions are based on a comprehensive analysis of skeletal remains recovered from an archaeological site off the Unalaska Island in the eastern Aleutians that was occupied at the height of the Neoglacial period, ca. 3500 to 2500 BP. Pack ice extent in the southern Bering Sea changed markedly during the Neoglacial, which sheds significant new light on the origins of Thule culture and on important aspects of ringed seal and fur seal life history.

Keywords:   Neoglacial, sea ice, ringed seals, fur seals, Bering Sea, Pacific Coast, life history, Aleutians, Pribilof Islands, Thule culture

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