The diet of Antarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus gazella Peters 1875) during winter at South Georgia

The diet of mainly adult and sub-adult male Antarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus gazella) was investigated during the austral winters of 1992 and 1993 using faecal (scat) analysis. Of samples containing identifiable prey remains (n = 376), c. 28% contained krill alone, c. 37% contained fish alone and c. 35% contained both krill and fish. The mean size of krill taken was smaller than in summer due to the absence of large adult krill of 55–60 mm total length. Of the 25 fish taxa taken, krill-feeding species predominated, especially in scats that also contained krill. Non-krill feeding species were more abundant in scats containing fish alone. The mackerel icefish (Champsocephalus gunnari Lönnberg 1905), which feeds mainly on krill, was the most important fish species in terms of absolute frequency (53%), frequency of occurrence (69%) and estimated biomass (47%); fur seals may have a significant impact on local stocks of this species. Cephalopods and pelagic fish (myctophids) were of minor importance in the diet (<2%). The importance of krill and krill-feeding fish species suggests that the male fur seals, which are present around South Georgia in winter, are targeting their foraging on a krill and fish community, probably associated with krill aggregations.


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Authors: Reid, Keith

1 January, 1995
Antarctic Science / 7
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