Monitoring the behavior of the seals for two years was possible because many seals return to the same site to breed, and the researchers were able to identify particular seals by their individual fur patterns. Among both male and female seals, responses were not linked to factors such as age or size. The study was recently published in the journal Marine Mammal Science, and its findings will be presented at the 19th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals in Tampa, Fla. The researchers also used the RCV to check the male seals' responses, finding a similarly wide range of "fathering," with some seals rapidly retreating while other males approached the RCV in a challenging way, such as with their mouths open, which seals view as a threat. Twiss added that you'd expect the moms "to change their behavior according to the situation, but the non-attentive mothers remained inattentive. Mother seals' personalities determine whether they will frequently check on their pups to make sure they are safe, according to the researchers. Females tend to stay with their pups and conduct "checks" on them by raising their heads off the ground and moving it in the direction of their young in order to verify the pups' well-being.
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