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Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Michael Polito

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Projects
» Tracking Animal Migrations Using Stable Isotopes

» Conservation Ecology of California Seabird Islands

» Niche Dynamics of Antarctic Krill Predators

» Mercury (Hg) Exposure in Marine Communities

» Trophic Ecology of New England Gray Seals

» Oxidative Stress and Sexual Signaling in Penguins


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A recently tagged grey seal on Cape Cod. (M. Polito - under MMPA research permit #17670)


The Trophic Ecology of New England Gray Seals



Collaborators:

Dave Johnston (Duke), Jerry Moxley (Duke), Gordon Waring (NOAA), Andrea Bogomolni (WHOI), Simon Thorrold (WHOI), Members of the Northwest Atlantic Seal Research Consortium



While considered locally extinct in the U.S. prior to 1958, gray seals (Halichoerus grypus) populations have recovered substantially since then with more than 16,000 gray seals now found in the Gulf of Maine and New England coast. This growing population of seals has lead to concerns in coastal communities about interactions between seals and commercial and recreational fisheries. This project aims to aid in our understanding of the diets and ecological role of gray seals in the Gulf of Maine and New England coast. We are using stable isotope analysis and animal tracking (by Duke University) to provide a better understanding of the diets and movements of gray seals. This will help us to understand their predation pressure on commercially important fish stocks and develop research, conservation and management strategies that benefit both seals and fisheries in collaboration with scientists, natural resource managers and the fishing community members of the Northwest Atlantic Seal Research Consortium.


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