Dispersal of male and female Antarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus gazella)

This study examined the foraging locations of adult male and female Antarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus gazella) in the Scotia Sea during the postbreeding period. Satellite transmitters were used to track adult males and females and to obtain information about dive depths. Male fur seals migrated away from the breeding area during the postbreeding period whereas females remained close to the breeding grounds and foraged in the same area during two consecutive years. The most intensive foraging by females was associated with the edge of the continental shelf of South Georgia. Males dived deeper than females. Counts of males at South Georgia and at the South Orkney Islands support the result from satellite tracking data showing that males move from South Georgia to the South Orkney Islands at the end of the breeding season. Unlike males, females were limited in their foraging range by the necessity to return to feed dependent young, so breeding sites are likely to be located close to foraging areas that are optimal for females. Locations used for feeding by females were avoided by males, either because they were suboptimal for males or because foraging by females at South Georgia causes local depletion of food, and males, which have the option to forage further afield, can forage more successfully in regions where there are no females. Comparison with fisheries data also suggests that these fur seals are targeting the most abundant exploitable prey.


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Authors: Boyd, I.L., McCafferty, D.J., Reid, K., Taylor, R., Walker, T.R.

1 January, 1998
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences / 55
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