Quantitative aspects of harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) play
Deane Renouf and John. W. Lawson
Department of Psychology and Ocean Sciences Centre, St. John's, NF, Canada, AIB 3X9
Journal of Zoology. 212, 267 - 273. 1987
Abstract: Harbour seal play behaviour was investigated from pupping through mating seasons using videotaping techniques which permitted more refined data acquisition than in our earlier study. Calculation of age class play rates confirmed a large proportion of adult play, but showed that juveniles played only marginally more frequently than adults. Adults increased their playing during the weaning/mating season, whereas that of juveniles and subadults declined over the observation period. Play between mothers and pups increased as weaning drew near, and weaners played at a consistently high rate thereafter. As in our earlier study, solitary play proved to be far more frequent than social play, with adults playing socially only during the mating season, and weaners never doing so. The implication of our earlier report and of the literature, that mothers, pups and weaners play rarely, was proven incorrect. Females played more often than males, and the type of playing displayed by each sex differed.