Distribution of post-weaning Antarctic fur seal Arctocephalus gazella pups at South Georgia
Potentially some of the biggest gaps in our knowledge about the ecology of Antarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus gazella) relate to juvenile animals. We investigated the at-sea distribution of five male and five female fur seal pups post-weaning. The study was carried out at Bird Island, South Georgia during two successive winters using satellite-linked platform transmitter terminals (PTTs). Our results are analysed in relation to pup sex and the physical environment and productivity of those 2 years, as well as in the context of our present knowledge of where post-breeding females and males forage. The available physical and biological data during both of the winters of this study suggest that both years were not unusual. We report marked differences between the sexes with male pups foraging significantly further away from land and their birth site than do females. The pups foraged in areas to the East of Bird Island seldom reported as foraging areas for the adult population. Also as winter progressed they showed a more oceanic distribution leaving the continental shelf, possibly to exploit a different prey source that was more readily available in the upper water column.
Authors: Warren, N.L., Trathan, P.N., Forcada, J. ORCID record for J. Forcada, Fleming, A.H., Jessopp, M.J.