Distribution and diving behaviour of crabeater seals (Lobodon carcinophagus) off Queen Maud Land
- Cite this article as:
- Nordøy, E.S., Folkow, L. & Blix, A.S. Polar Biol (1995) 15: 261. doi:10.1007/BF00239846
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Eight crabeater seals (Lobodon carcinophagus) (three females, five males), ranging in body mass between 125 and 220 kg, were captured off Queen Maud Land (70–72°S, 7–16°W) during the last week of February, just after moulting, and tagged with Argos satellite-linked dive recorders to provide data on location and diving depth and duration. During the first few weeks of March the seals were moving in the pack ice along the continental shelf edge, close to the coast of Queen Maud Land. In April and May, when the pack ice extended northwards, most of the seals moved north, one reaching 63°S in late May. In the first half of June the two remaining seals turned south and moved back deep into the pack ice. The seals made about 150 dives per day each throughout the study period. Ninety percent of these were made to depths of less than 52 m. Individual maximum diving depths varied between 288 and 528 m. In March the seals were most active at night, when the dive depth was shallower than during the day. In April and May the seals were more active during day-time, with an absence of any diurnal change in divng depth. These results support the notion that crabeater seals predominantly feed on krill in Antarctic pack ice, even when winter returns to the waters off Queen Maud Land.