Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Human Impacts on Seals, Sea Lions, and Sea Otters

Human Impacts on Seals, Sea Lions, and Sea Otters: Integrating Archaeology and Ecology in the Northeast Pacific

Todd J. Braje
Torben C. Rick
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Pages: 328
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Human Impacts on Seals, Sea Lions, and Sea Otters
    Book Description:

    For more than ten thousand years, Native Americans from Alaska to southern California relied on aquatic animals such as seals, sea lions, and sea otters for food and raw materials. Archaeological research on the interactions between people and these marine mammals has made great advances recently and provides a unique lens for understanding the human and ecological past. Archaeological research is also emerging as a crucial source of information on contemporary environmental issues as we improve our understanding of the ancient abundance, ecology, and natural history of these species. This groundbreaking interdisciplinary volume brings together archaeologists, biologists, and other scientists to consider how archaeology can inform the conservation and management of pinnipeds and other marine mammals along the Pacific Coast.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94897-6
    Subjects: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1 People, Pinnipeds, and Sea Otters of the Northeast Pacific
    (pp. 1-18)
    Torben C. Rick, Todd J. Braje and Robert L. DeLong

    Marine mammals, such as polar bears, sea otters, seals, sea lions, and walruses, are an extraordinary group of organisms, many of which maintain a link to both aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Often highly intelligent with sophisticated communication systems, marine mammals are a fundamental component of marine ecosystems around the world (Berta et al. 2005; Riedman 1990). Human interaction with seals, sea otters, and other marine mammals spans millennia and the entire globe (Erlandson 2001; Etnier 2007; Hildebrandt and Jones 1992; Klein and Cruz-Uribe 1996; Lyman 1995; McNiven and Beddingfeld 2008; Monks 2005a; Nagaoka 2002; Stringer et al. 2008). Containing large...

  5. 2 A History of Paleoecological Research on Sea Otters and Pinnipeds of the Eastern Pacific Rim
    (pp. 19-40)
    R. Lee Lyman

    Today it is not unusual to pick up the latest issue of an archaeology journal such asAmerican Antiquity,orJournal of Archaeological Science, or the like, and to find in the table of contents an article on a topic in zooarchaeology. It is more difficult to find a piece on the zooarchaeology of marine mammals. It is equally difficult to find an article on some prehistoric aspect of marine mammals based on zooarchaeological remains in a natural history journal such asMarine Mammal Science or Oecologia. These informal observations prompt some musings. Has the history of zooarchaeological research on...

  6. 3 The Historical Ecology of Walrus Exploitation in the North Pacific
    (pp. 41-64)
    Erica Hill

    The pacific walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) is a highly salient species of sea mammal and was a fundamental resource for prehistoric maritime peoples in the North Pacific. For at least 2000 years, inhabitants of the coasts of St. Lawrence Island, Alaska, and the Chukchi Peninsula of Chukotka have relied upon walrus as either a primary or secondary resource. At some highly debated point in time, Eskimo on both sides of the Bering Strait adopted whaling, and in most areas the use of walrus as a resource declined (for discussion of possible dates, see Mason and Gerlach 1995). Modern inhabitants of...

  7. 4 Neoglacial Sea Ice and Life History Flexibility in Ringed and Fur Seals
    (pp. 65-92)
    Susan J. Crockford and S. Gay Frederick

    Two interesting life history questions about North Pacific pinnipeds beg for zooarchaeological input. One is the observation that the ringed seal,Phoca hispida, an Arctic species that also inhabits the Bering Sea , appears to have two morphologically distinct ecotypes: (1) a large, territorial form that gives birth and breeds on the immobile, shorefast ice (aka “fast ice”) that forms along terrestrial shorelines; and (2) a smaller, early maturing form that lives and breeds off shore, within the mobile Arctic pack ice (aka “sea ice”). The existence of two distinctly sized ringed seal ecotypes, initially brought to the attention of...

  8. 5 A 4500-Year Time-Series of Otariid Abundance on Sanak Island, Western Gulf of Alaska
    (pp. 93-110)
    Matthew W. Betts, Herbert D.G. Maschner and Veronica Lech

    Archaeological remains reveal that Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) and northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus) were crucially important to the subsistence strategies of most prehistoric Aleut (e.g., Crockford et al. 2004; Tews 2005; Yesner 1981, 1988). This relationship developed over millennia and was mediated both by “natural” factors characteristic of all predator-prey systems, and by social factors that became entangled in the hunt and its related products.

    The hunting of otariids in the western Gulf of Alaska (GOA) was fundamentally disrupted by the insertion of Aleuts in the Russian fur trade in the 18th century and the subsequent entry of...

  9. 6 An Analysis of Seal, Sea Lion, and Sea Otter Consumption Patterns on Sanak Island, Alaska: AN 1800-YEAR RECORD ON ALEUT CONSUMER BEHAVIOR
    (pp. 111-128)
    Veronica Lech, Matthew W. Betts and Herbert D. G. Maschner

    The sanak island biocomplexity project investigates the roles that humans played in North Pacific ecosystems during the Middle-to-Late Holocene. The underlying premise of the project is that prehistoric peoples, with traditional technology, were significant forces in marine ecosystems and, like all taxa, actively engineered environments to both their advantage—and potentially to their detriment (Maschner et al. 2008, n.d.). Excavations of shell middens on Sanak Island have generated a 4500-year time-series of marine mammal remains. An analysis of otariid and sea otter remains (Figure 6.1; Betts et al. this volume) suggests that the frequencies of Steller sea lions, northern fur...

  10. 7 Toward a Historical Ecology of Pinniped and Sea Otter Hunting Traditions on the Coast of Southern British Columbia
    (pp. 129-166)
    Iain McKechnie and Rebecca J. Wigen

    Marine mammals (pinnipeds, cetaceans, and sea otters [Enhydra lutris]) have been important to First Nations people in coastal British Columbia for millennia, but their archaeological distribution is poorly known. While archaeological evidence of marine mammal hunting is known for numerous locations over the past 10,000 years of human occupation on the British Columbia Coast (e.g., Carlson 2003; Cannon 1991; Fedje et al. 2005; Matson 1976), it is remarkable that few studies have examined archaeological evidence of mammalian hunting traditions on broad regional and/or temporal scales. Considering the importance of these animals to the modern marine ecosystem, understanding the long-term human...

  11. 8 Native American Use of Seals, Sea Lions, and Sea Otters in Estuaries of Northern Oregon and Southern Washington
    (pp. 167-196)
    Madonna L. Moss and Robert J. Losey

    Over the last 25 years, archaeologists have compiled a substantial zooarchaeological record of pinnipeds on the Washington, Oregon, and California coasts (Burton et al. 2001, 2002; Colten 2002; Etnier 2002a, 2002b; Gifford-Gonzalez et al. 2005; Hildebrandt 1984a, 1984b; Hildebrandt and Jones 1992, 2002, 2004; Jones and Hildebrandt 1995; Lyman 1988, 1989, 1991a, 1991b, 1995, 2003; Porcasi et al. 2000; Walker et al. 1999). These and other studies (e.g., Cooper and Stewart 1983; Howorth 1993; McClenachan 2002; Pearson 1968; Pyle et al. 2001; Stewart et al. 1993) have established that during the 19th and 20th centuries, commercial hunting, target practice, etc.,...

  12. 9 Why Were Northern Fur Seals Spared in Northern California? A Cultural and Archaeological Explanation
    (pp. 197-220)
    Adrian R. Whitaker and William R. Hildebrandt

    Since the initiation of systematic archaeological research in northwestern California and southern Oregon 40 years ago, seals and sea lions have held a central place in archaeological analyses. The topic was brought to a broader audience in a series of papers by Hildebrandt and Jones, and Lyman, that examined trends in sea lion hunting through time and first posited the possibility that prehistoric humans had adversely affected breeding seals and sea lions (Hildebrandt and Jones 1992, 2002; Jones and Hildebrandt 1995; Lyman 1988, 1995, 2003). Since then, a group of eastern Pacific Rim archaeologists have intensively examined the role of...

    (pp. 221-242)
    Diane Gifford-Gonzalez

    Historical ecologists have recognized for some time the relevance of paleontological and archaeological data for understanding longer-term ecological dynamics than could be apprehended from relatively shortterm historical records (Jackson et al. 2001). The research reported here has proceeded on the assumption that zooarchaeological, stable isotopic, and ancient DNA (aDNA) analyses can, in combination, elucidate the longer-term histories of northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus) in the North Pacific. After a decade of collaborative research by investigators from several institutions and agencies, this expectation has proved to be justifi ed (e.g., Newsome, Etnier, Giff ord-Gonzalez et al. 2007). Nonetheless, while these results...

  14. 11 Toward a Prehistory of the Southern Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris nereis)
    (pp. 243-272)
    Terry L. Jones, Brendan J. Culleton, Shawn Larson, Sarah Mellinger and Judith F. Porcasi

    The southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) is one of the mostly widely recognized and highly cherished marine mammals on the coast of California. In seaside communities up and down the state, images of sea otters are ubiquitous on T-shirts, coffee mugs, and bumper stickers. Tourists flock in droves to watch otters from cliffs and jetties, and to peer at them underwater at the Monterey Aquarium. Not surprisingly, scientific research on sea otters has been commensurate with this interest, and much is known about their basic biology, behavior, and ecology.

    The prehistory of sea otters, however, is much less well...

    (pp. 273-296)
    Todd J. Braje, Torben C. Rick, Robert L. DeLong and Jon M. Erlandson

    Debates about the nature and intensity of marine mammal hunting by ancient peoples and the degree of anthropogenic forcing on northeastern Pacific pinniped populations have been hotly contested. Several models have been proposed to explain patterns observed in marine mammal faunal assemblages from mainland and island localities along North America’s Pacific Coast, with little agreement on the initial antiquity and chronology of marine mammal exploitation, the focus of prey species, the distribution of rookery locations, and the effects humans had on sea mammal abundance, behavior, and distributions (e.g., Colten and Arnold 1998; Erlandson et al. 1998, 2004; Etnier 2002; Hildebrandt...

    (pp. 297-308)
    Todd J. Braje and Torben C. Rick

    Over the last decade a variety of scientists, resource managers, and environmental activists have worked to increase public awareness of the crises facing the world’s oceans and the role humans have played in their degradation. Overfishing, pollution, climate change, mismanagement, and other factors have resulted in severely depleted marine ecosystems and anthropogenic seascapes (Dayton et al. 1995; Ellis 2003; Halpern et al. 2008; Jackson 2008; Jackson et al. 2001; Lotze and Worm 2009; Pauly 1995; Pauly and Palomores 2005; Pauly et al. 1998, 2005; Pew Oceans Commission 2003; Pitcher 2001; Woodard 2000; Worm et al. 2006). Steps have been taken...

  17. INDEX
    (pp. 309-320)