First documentation of leopard seal predation of South Georgia pintail duck
Leopard seals are regular winter visitors to Bird Island, South Georgia, where they mostly prey on fur seals and penguins, and to a lesser extent on Antarctic krill and fish. Leopard seals can exploit many different species, but there are no records of predation on flying shorebirds in the wild. On 4 October 2008, an individually identified juvenile leopard seal female was observed killing and eating a South Georgia Pintail duck. It also preyed on Antarctic fur seals and gentoo and macaroni penguins during its 2-month temporary residency around the island. The varied diet of this seal exemplifies the generalist prey utilization typical of its species. Long-term diet studies at Bird Island and the published record suggest that predation on ducks is a rather exceptional finding; individual ducks are more likely to escape leopard seal attacks than penguins and provide a far less substantial ration. This note documents the first observation of this species of duck in the diet of leopard seals.
Authors: Edwards, Ewan, Forcada, Jaume ORCID record for Jaume Forcada, Crossin, Glenn T.