Research Document - 2012/172

Comparison of the thickness of the calvarium between young grey (Halichoerus grypus) and harp (Pagophilus groenlandicus) seals

By C. Caraguel, P.-Y. Daoust, and F. de Bie

Abstract

Young harp seals (Pagophilus groenlandicus) have traditionally been hunted along the Canadian Atlantic coast, and regulations are now in place to ensure that this hunt meets adequate standards of animal welfare. These young seals are killed by a blow to the head from a hakapik or a club or by a bullet to the head. A hunt for young grey seals (Halichoerus grypus), using similar methods, occurs intermittently on a smaller scale around the Canadian Maritime provinces.  However, field observations suggest that the skull of young grey seals is substantially thicker than that of young harp seals. The results of this study confirm these field observations and suggest the need for further research when adapting the current hunting methods for young harp seals to grey seals.

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