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|Title||A preliminary assessment of the impact of disturbance and handling on Weddell seals of McMurdo Sound, Antarctica|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2010|
|Authors||Mellish, J-AE, Hindle, AJ, Horning, M|
There has been growing concern over the impact of increased human disturbance and research effects on Antarctic species. The Weddell seal of McMurdo Sound in particular has been used as a model species for over four decades of research, with some individuals handled multiple times over a single season. Using opportunistic data, we performed an assessment of blood indicators in adult males (n = 26) and adult females (n = 24) based on high versus low disturbance areas, with results showing no variation in overall seal health. In addition, we performed a preliminary analysis of blood and faecal indicators of inflammation and stress collected from adult, non-lactating females (n = 13) handled twice in less than two weeks for research purposes. There was no indication of a change in white blood cells, platelets, globulins or haptoglobins, or faecal corticosteroids (all P > 0.05). While based on a small, opportunistic sample size with limited power in some cases, preliminary results indicate there is no acute impact of repeated handling or difference in overall traffic level on adult Weddell seals.