Entanglement of Antarctic fur seals at Bird Island, South Georgia
Between November 1989 and March 2013, 1033 Antarctic fur seals Arctocephalus gazella were observed entangled in marine debris at Bird Island, South Georgia. The majority of entanglements involved plastic packaging bands (43%), synthetic line (25%) or fishing net (17%). Juvenile male seals were the most commonly entangled (44%). A piecewise regression analysis showed that a single breakpoint at 1994 gave the best description of inter-annual variability in the data, with higher levels of entanglements prior to 1994 (mean = 110 ± 28) followed by persistent lower levels (mean = 28 ± 4). Records of entanglements from other sites monitored in the Scotia Sea are also presented. Legislation imposed by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) has, to a certain extent, been effective, but persistent low levels of seal entanglements are still a cause for concern at South Georgia.