Alaska SeaLife Center news

Posted: Monday, January 29, 2001

Harbor seal hormone study continues

Dr. Shannon Atkinson, Alaska SeaLife Center science director, and Carolyn Oki from the University of Hawaii at Manoa Department of Animal Sciences, recently conducted winter hormone tests on resident harbor seals. The information gathered will show how seasons and environment may play a role in the physiology of the seals. Because of Alaska's extreme changes in season, findings have been interesting. Measurements of cortisol and thyroid hormones show what physiological state the animals are in during each season. The data will hopefully provide a baseline for future studies and help the center to understand the physiology of animals belonging to declining populations.

Harlequin duck study nearing completion

The harlequin duck study is approaching the end of its midwinter phase, and plenty of metabolic and behavioral information is being collected. Maintaining wild ducks in captivity has proven to be the biggest challenge of the project. The ducks prefer an all-fish diet in captivity, something not seen in the wild, where harlequins eat primarily invertebrates.

Early this month, a duck, which was removed from the study, was returned to her winter home in Prince William Sound. The ducks that remain at the center will be joining her when the study is finished for the season in mid-March.

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