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Mammals (other)
Modified technique for the subcutaneous implantation of radio transmitters in harbour seals (Phoca vitulina richardii) under field conditions
  1. Suzanne Manugian1,
  2. William Van Bonn2 and
  3. James T Harvey1
  1. 1Vertebrate Ecology Lab, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, Moss Landing, California, USA
  2. 2A. Watson Armour III Center for Animal Health and Welfare, John G. Shedd Aquarium, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  1. Correspondence to Suzanne Manugian, suzannemanugian{at}


A revised sedation and transmitter implantation technique was assessed for use in phocids under field conditions. Previous methods were modified with the intention of reducing animal handling time, complication rate, and logistic challenges associated with general anaesthesia and surgery. Pilot studies were conducted mimicking field conditions with close monitoring of animals (n=9) before implementing the procedure in the field on additional animals (n=32). No pilot study animals exhibited any complications. A number of animals were detected in the wild post release however tracking did not include follow-up physical examination of all animals. One implanted animal presented to a rehabilitation facility and died under care and postmortem examination revealed death was not tag-related. The combination of sedation and local anaesthesia enabled the successful expedited implantation of transmitters under field conditions. The authors conclude the method described is appropriate for field subcutaneous implantation surgeries on phocids.

  • Field trials
  • Marine mammals
  • Harbor seal
  • Phoca vitulina
  • Wild animals
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