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 leopard seal is widely distributed on the Antarctic pack ice, but a number of individuals are also thought to displace north from the pack ice to the sub-Antarctic Islands or venture even farther north. In Chile, the leopard seal has been reported mainly in the Fueguian Archipelago, with individuals sighted year-round; however, the data to date have been unable to determine whether it is the same individuals who remain year-round. Thus, one of the questions to be resolved is whether there is a northward dispersion of individuals from the Southern Ocean returning to the Antarctic continent, or alternatively if there is a potential sub-Antarctic population that delay or suspend their migration toward the Antarctic region. Opportunistic sightings of a solitary seal at Ballena Sound (53°41′S, 72°37′W), Magellan Region, Chile, were documented in photographs on six occasions from January to May 2012. Based on the review of the photographs, the leopard seal was identified as the same individual. This finding provides the first evidence of a long occupation by a leopard seal in the fjords and channels of Fueguian Region, suggesting the existence of a small population inhabiting the waters of Southern Chile year-round.
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    Ecology. 01/2004; 85(2):398-410.
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    ABSTRACT: Sightings of 115 leopard seals, Hydrurga leptonyx, have been recorded along the Chilean coasts from 1927 to 2010. Mostly immature seals occurred in northern and central Chile (18°20´S-39°59´S), especially in winter, while immature and adult individuals of both sexes and in good condition were commonly sighted year-round in glacial areas of southern Chile, especially Tierra del Fuego (south of 53°43´S), suggesting that this Antarctic species can be considered as a regular member of the marine fauna of Chile, with occasionally hauling out on the northern coastline as seasonal vagrants. Keeping in mind data limitation, we discuss some ways of northern dispersion and the year-round presence of animals in the Southern region of South America. These include, respectively: the close proximity of the Fueguian channels with the Antarctic Peninsula facilitated by the northward extension of the Antarctic pack ice during winter and/or through the influence of the Malvinas current; and the suitable habitat of the Fueguian channels, with similar characteristics to the Antarctic environment and locally abundant food resources. centro-norte (18°20´S-39°59´S), especialmente no inverno, a maioria dos registros esteve representada por indivíduos imaturos. Indivíduos imaturos e adultos de ambos os sexos ocorreram ao longo do ano, em boas condições físicas, em áreas glaciais da região sul do Chile, especialmente na Terra do Fogo (ao sul de 53°43´S). Nesta revisão, há evidências robustas para sugerir que a espécie é uma visitante regular da fauna Antártica em território austral chileno, ocorrendo eventualmente como vadios sazonais na costa norte do país. Apesar das limitações inerentes aos dados, discutem-se sobre a dispersão da espécie em direção ao norte e subsequente presença de indivíduos na porção austral da América do Sul. Estas incluem respectivamente: a proximidade entre os canais Foguinos e a Península Antártica, favorecida pela expansão da capa de gelo em direção ao norte durante o inverno e/ou pela influência da corrente das Malvinas; o habitat adequado nas canais Foguinos, com características similares àquelas do ambiente Antártico, somado à presença de recursos alimentares localmente abundantes. Palavras-chave: Foca-leopardo; Chile; América do Sul; Oceano Austral.
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