timistravels

My job allows me to visit a lot of Alaska on a yearly basis. I wanted to capture the trips in one location!

St. Paul Island; a 5 hour tour, a 5 hour tour!

on September 25, 2012

I returned to St. Paul Island in the Pribilof’s for a few days to do workshops with the board and work in the schools with my colleague Jenni.  If you go back in the blogs you will see I was here in March.  I’ll remind you that St. Paul is part of the Pribilof Islands and sit 880 miles W of Anchorage.

It was so different being there in Sept. vs in March.  It had a feel of mid-west fall days, though no trees to have leaves that are changing colors, the plants and ground cover are changing to their fall hues.views from out the roadview of island

The first night we walked down to the end of town and watched the seals from a distance as the beaches are all off limits to people.  It was a cloudy night but you could see seals playing in the water, swimming and jumping all around as well as 100’s of them on the hillside.  me with the sign, STOP go no furtherhillside of seals

I was to leave on Wed. however a volcano eruption in Russia caused problems with air quality and my plane did not make it out to pick me up, so I had a ‘free’ afternoon after doing some workshops in the morning.

Jenni and I decided to contact St. Paul Island Tours to see if we could go on a tour and thankfully they had an open calendar.  Doug,  our guide picked us up and stated the adventure.Jenni and I happy for the sunshine

First stop, Reef Point where there were 1000’s of fur seals.  Such a interesting  to come upon these seals in their natural habitat and watch them for almost an hour.  This is what I learned.viewing areas

  • In early May, the males, 5 years or older come to the beaches and ‘mark’ their territory.
  • These spaces tend to be 12’-15’ from one another.
  • On June 1, the rookeries are closed and remain off limits until mid-October .
  • These “Beach Master” males find their spot and wait about a month and a half for the females to arrive in the end of June.
  • 90% of the females give birth immediately, within 24 hours, once they snuggle up with a Beach Master.first seal as we walked to viewing blind

    mom nursing her baby

    mom nursing a babyenjoying the sunshine

  • Beach Master Males can have anywhere from 40-60 females in ‘their’ space, and the weaker Masters can have as little as 1 or 2 females as they get too old to defend their space.
  • Males become Beach Masters at around the age of 7, females can get pregnant as young as 5 but usually don’t start having pups until they are 7/8.
  • Once they give birth, the male impregnate the females immediately.
  • The females will deliver these pups next June/July.
  • Hunting for the Aleut Natives begins at the end of July and into early Aug.
  • About 200 males are killed during the hunt and the 3 year old male seals are targeted, though 2 -4 year olds are taken during the open hunt.this one was interested in us
  • The Beach Master males head back into the waters in late August though a few linger until Sept.  They are hungry and in search of food.
  • Females and pups head into the waters in Nov. and separate shortly after this.
  • Males live until about 12-15 years of age.
  • Females live to between 20-21 years of age.
  • Much like humans you can tell their age by how ‘white’ their whiskers are… the more white, the older the seal!

ahhh, the white whiskers shows a bit of her age... the whiter the<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
whisker the older they are.fur seals crowded the beacheson the viewing platform with guide Doug

can't believe how many seals you could see at once

I will write about the rest of the tour in another blog!


2 responses to “St. Paul Island; a 5 hour tour, a 5 hour tour!

  1. Maureen says:

    Wow..so interesting! Thanks Timi. I had lunch yesterday with Sarah VanDore..so nice to see my Hillsdale sisters. We missed you. Maureen

    Like

  2. Tom Milan says:

    Another excellent narrative, Timi! So this is where you were headed after we saw you in Anchorage? It was so great to see you! Are the pups really out on their own after only four months–born in July and separate in November?

    Like

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