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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 502:281-294 (2014)  -  DOI:

Foraging behaviour of southern elephant seals over the Kerguelen Plateau

Malcolm O’Toole1,*, Mark A. Hindell1, Jean-Benoir Charrassin2, Christophe Guinet3

1Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart 7001, Australia
2Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris 75231, France
3Marine Predator Department, Centre Biologique de Chize, Villiers en Bois 79360, France
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: A total of 79 (37 juvenile male, 42 adult female) southern elephant seals Mirounga leonina from the Kerguelen Islands were tracked between 2004 and 2009. Area-restricted search patterns and dive behaviour were established from location data gathered by CTD satellite-relayed data loggers. At-sea movements of the seals demonstrated that >40% of the juvenile elephant seal population tagged use the Kerguelen Plateau during the austral winter. Search activity increased where temperature at 200 m depth was lower, when closer to the shelf break, and, to a lesser extent, where sea-surface height anomalies were higher. However, while this model explained the observed data (F1,242 = 88.23, p < 0.0001), bootstrap analysis revealed poor predictive capacity (r2 = 0.264). There appears to be potential overlap between the seals and commercial fishing operations in the region. This study may therefore support ecosystem-based fisheries management of the region, with the aim of maintaining ecological integrity of the shelf.

KEY WORDS: Diving behaviour · 3-dimensional utilisation · Shelf break · Temperature · Sea‑surface height · Fisheries management

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Cite this article as: O’Toole M, Hindell MA, Charrassin JB, Guinet C (2014) Foraging behaviour of southern elephant seals over the Kerguelen Plateau. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 502:281-294.

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