Journal Article

Fine-scale linkages between the diving behaviour of Antarctic fur seals and oceanographic features in the southern Indian Ocean

Mary-Anne Lea and Laurent Dubroca

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 60, issue 5, pages 990-1002
Published in print January 2003 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2003 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1054-3139(03)00101-2
Fine-scale linkages between the diving behaviour of Antarctic fur seals and oceanographic features in the southern Indian Ocean

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Diving activity, foraging locations and pup provisioning behaviour of 10 female Antarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus gazella) were examined with respect to a range of oceanographic parameters (sea surface temperature, chlorophyll distribution and bathymetry) at the Kerguelen Archipelago in the southern Indian Ocean in February 2000. A multivariate analysis of the environmental parameters at each of the nightly foraging locations indicated the existence of two ecoregions within the foraging range of the seals. Five seals actively foraged in oceanic waters (1870 m) with relatively warm surface water (5.4°C) to the north and east of the colony (ecoregion 1), while four others travelled to the southeast (ecoregion 2) to waters typical of the surface expression of the Polar Front (3.7°C) located over the continental shelf break (597 m). Only one seal foraged in both regions. Diving behaviour, parameterised on a nightly basis using seven variables, clearly differed between regions, with the diving activity in the warmer ecoregion 1 being characterised by deep dives (55 m), and relatively little time spent diving (47%). Conversely, dives within ecoregion 2 were, on average, to shallower depths (34.5 m), and proportionately more time was spent diving (54%). Despite differences in environmental conditions encountered and associated differences in diving activity, the foraging success of mothers, in terms of daily pup mass gain per foraging cycle, was similar in both ecoregions. The study highlights the use of multivariate analysis in categorising the foraging zones and behaviour of Antarctic fur seals.

Keywords: Antarctic fur seal; diving; oceanography; Polar Frontal Zone; provisioning; spatial scale

Journal Article.  7588 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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