Seasonal occurrence and diet of leopard seals (Hydrurga leptonyx) at Bird Island, South Georgia

Antarctic Science (Impact Factor: 1.63). 02/1998; 10(01):75 - 81. DOI: 10.1017/S0954102098000108

ABSTRACT Seasonal haul-out patterns and diet of individually marked leopard seals (Hydrurga
leptonyx) were investigated at Bird Island, South Georgia during the 1983–96 winters. A total of 2956 leopard seal sightings were made, and 121 seals were tagged during the study, mainly between 1993 and 1996. Photographs of scars and pelage patterns were also used to identify a subset of these individuals across years, which provided no evidence of tag loss between or within years. Leopard seals were observed between April and November; the mean time between the first and last sightings in each year was 208 d (s d ± 48). Between 1993–96, eight seals were resident around the island for more than 100 d, and the longest recorded residence was 130 d. The proportion of tagged seals resighted was 0.35 and 0.17 in 1995 and 1996 respectively. Based on estimates of body length, <5% of the seals were juveniles (0–1 years) and >70% were not sexually mature. There was considerable inter-annual variation in abundance, with a maximum of 502 sightings during 1994, compared with a minimum of 21 during 1986 and 1989. Antarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus
gazella) were the main prey item (58% of kills observed and 53% of scats). Other items included penguins (28% of kills observed and 20% of scats) and fish (24% of scats). Antarctic krill (Euphausia
superba), southern elephant seals (Mirounga
leonina) and seabirds other than penguins were also present in the diet in small quantities.

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    ABSTRACT: The diet of male and female leopard seals (Hydrurga leptonyx) was investigated in Prydz Bay, Eastern Antarctica. A total of 70 scats, 1 regurgitate and 3 stomach contents were collected, during the austral summer, between November 1999 and March 2002. Eight prey species were identified, including birds, mammals, fish and invertebrates. Adelie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) were the main prey item and crabeater seals (Lobodon carcinophagus), benthic and pelagic fish, amphipods and krill were found to supplement the diet. Cephalopods did not occur in the diet. Crabeater seals were still being captured well after weaning, and were found in the diet of both male and female leopard seals.
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