The Northern Fur Seal (Callorhinus ursinus) Bibliography

October 22, 2006

The principal breeding grounds of the northern fur seal (Callorhinus ursinus) occur on the Pribilof Islands in the eastern Bering Sea. These islands were discovered in 1786 by the crew of the St. George, a Russian ship under the command of Gerasim Gavrilovich Pribilof. Breeding colonies occur in various other locations in the Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea; among the newest is a rapidly growing rookery on Bogoslof Island (first colonized about 1980; see reference 1123) just north of the Aleutian island chain. The first fur seal to be seen by a European was sighted in 1741 (by Georg Wilhelm Steller, Aug. 10, south of Kodiak Island; reference 1579). Since that time, especially in this century, the northern fur seal (sometimes called the Alaska fur seal) has been the subject of both intensive and extensive biological studies, more so than most other wild living large mammals. At the same time, these animals have helped promote a growing awareness of marine mammal issues by the general public. Fur seals have been the focus of wildlife conservation through public concern, as an economic resource, and as an indicator of the health of the ecosystems in which it occurs. As a result, there is a large volume of formal and informal literature on fur seals – from scientific investigations to more popularized accounts of the fur seal's extraordinary life history. The importance of the resulting scientific information is emphasized by a population that has been declining for the past two decades – a change with implications regarding past and present anthropogenic activities.

A comprehensive bibliography on the northern fur seal would encompass not only the scientific and technical literature but also the numerous popular articles on fur seal biology. These would include accounts of fur seal industry and economics, discussions on the social effects of the harvest on local residents, the history of both the U.S. and Russian fur seal islands, fictionalized stories about fur seals, and biographies of the numerous figures in the history of man's involvement with fur seals.  The scale of such a project was beyond our means and we confined our efforts to material we judged to be of value primarily to scientists.

Thus, our objective in assembling this bibliography is to provide a listing of publications that will facilitate access to the scientific and technical literature regarding northern fur seals.  It is intended for technical users, especially scientists and managers, but includes materials which might be of use to individuals with other specialized interests.  The wealth of information in this bibliography includes the fields of wildlife research, conservation, management, and resource utilization, as well as the more generalized topic of the history of science. Through the publication of this bibliography, we want to promote awareness of the research accomplished on this species as a source of valuable biological information.

Last updated by Alaska Fisheries Science Center on 09/06/2019

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