Her name in the nearly 50 year old database of the Weddell seal population study is SPENO 9622. Let's call her Golden. She is the 25 year old daughter of the Rare Old Mom we've been reporting on for the past several years.
Rare Old Mom's last re-sighting was in 2014 when she was 31 years old in the company of her 22nd pup. She is currently presumed to be deceased because she has not been re-sighted this season nor last season. Learn more about her amazing long life, history, and birth site fidelity from one of our past posts about her.
Daughter Golden, SPENO 9926, likely has the benefit of great genetics and great nurturing from her extremely successful, highly productive and very long-lived Mom. Here is a graphic showing daughter Golden's re-sight and pupping history, courtesy of project lead scientist Dr. Jay Rotella:
In the graphic above are listed all of the pups of 25 year old Golden Mom during her lifetime (not including her newest pup this season). Weddell seal moms live an average of 15 years, and usually have around 2 pups every 3 years, so this long life and number of pups is unusual. Of Golden's 16 pups to date, 4 have been re-sighted in subsequent years, and two have had pups of their own.
Note that Golden's pup born in 2000, SPENO 14465, has now had 6 pups, herself, for a total of 7 grand-pups for Golden, and 7 great grand-pups for the Rare Old Mom from Golden. Weddell population project scientists are studying the relationship of maternal effects and pup survival and recruitment (joining a pupping colony and having a pup). Having a nearly 50 year database of Erebus Bay Weddell seals gives scientists a unique opportunity to more closely study maternal effects, pup survival to recruitment, and heritability of these effects. It will be fascinating to learn more over the next several seasons about how maternal effects relate to this lineage of Golden and the Rare Old Mom.
- Mary Lynn Price