, Volume 28, Issue 5, pp 395-401
Date: 13 Jan 2005

Growth of female southern elephant seals Mirounga leonina at Macquarie Island

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Body growth of 137 female southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina) over 1 year of age was investigated at subantarctic Macquarie Island. An asymptotic straight line, snout–tail body length of 2.57±0.03 m was estimated to be attained at 9 years of age, using a three-parameter Gompertz equation. A significant increase of approximately 0.1 m (5%) in mean body length of females between 1 and 10 years of age was estimated to have occurred between the 1950–1960s and 1990s at Macquarie Island. This is consistent with a reduction in both the rate of population decline and the age of onset of sexual maturity. Age determination using dental cementum layers and the importance of standardised measurements in pinniped growth studies are discussed.