Diving patterns and performance in the Antarctic blue-eyed shag Phalacrocorax atriceps

The pattern and characteristics of diving of two male blue‐eyed shags Phalacrocorax atriceps were studied, using continuous‐recording time‐depth recorders, for a total of 15 consecutive days during which the depth, duration, bottom time, ascent and descent rates and surface intervals of 674 dives were recorded. Deep dives (> 35 m, averages80–90 m, max. 116 m) were twice as common (64% versus 34%) as shallow dives (< 21 m and 90% < 10 m). Deep dives were long (averages 2.7‐4.1 min, max. 5.2 min) with half the time spent near maximum depth and fast travel speeds (averages 1.0‐2.4 m s−1). Shallow dives were short (average 0.5 min, max. 1.3 min), without bottom time and with slow travel speeds (0.1–0.6 m s−1). The time spent at depth and the diet (mainly benthic fish and octopus) is consistent with benthic foraging; the function of shallow dives is uncertain. Male shags forage mainly in the afternoon in3–5 distinct bouts of diving. Within bouts (and shorter homogeneous sequences of diving) surface intervals are consistently2–3 times the preceding dive duration; in other shags the reverse is the case. Blue‐eyed shag diving depth, duration and pattern is extreme amongst shags; and the relationship between dives and surface intervals suggests that they may regularly exceed their aerobic dive limit.


Publication status:
Authors: Croxall, J.P., Naito, Y., Kato, A., Rothery, P., Briggs, D.R.

1 January, 1991
Journal of Zoology / 225
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