The vast majority of theses in this collection are open access and freely available. There are a small number of theses that have access restricted to the WWU campus. For off-campus access to a thesis labeled "Campus Only Access," please log in here with your WWU universal ID, or talk to your librarian about requesting the restricted thesis through interlibrary loan.

Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Acevedo-Gutiérrez, Alejandro, 1964-

Second Advisor

Donovan, Deborah Anne, 1964-

Third Advisor

Miner, Benjamin G., 1972-


The Pacific harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) is a noteworthy omission from the list of predators that aggregate at herring spawning sites, despite strong suggestive evidence that they are likely to respond to herring pulses. Working with the hypothesis that spawning herring aggregations are seasonally important prey for harbor seals, we tested several predictions using an analysis of harbor seal prey remains, GPS telemetry, and satellite-linked time/depth recorder data. Contrary to predictions, herring in harbor seal diet was comprised of 77% juveniles and 23% adults in the spawn season, versus 33% juveniles and 67% adults in the post-spawn season. Seal diving focus peaked at night during the post-spawn season, and seals exhibited less diving effort during the spawn season. Harbor seals did not however appear to alter their foraging behaviors to take advantage of spawning herring aggregations. The lack of response by harbor seals to spawning herring pulses is likely explained by seasonal differences in adult herring profitability, the availability of alternative prey, or a decline in local herring biomass.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Harbor seal--Behavior--Washington (State)--Puget Sound; Harbor seal--Food--Washington (State)--Puget Sound; Pacific herring--Predators of--Washington (State)--Puget Sound

Geographic Coverage

Puget Sound (Wash.)




masters theses




Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this thesis for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author's written permission.