, Volume 31, Issue 11, pp 1365-1372

Interannual variation in the diet of non-breeding male Antarctic fur seals, Arctocephalus gazella, at Isla 25 de Mayo/King George Island

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Abstract

The diet of non-breeding male Antarctic fur seals, Arctocephalus gazella, was investigated at Stranger Point, King George Island, through the analysis of scats during three consecutive summer seasons (1996, 1997, 1998). Overall, fish and krill were the most frequent prey occurring, respectively, in an average of 82.9% and 78.8% of samples (n = 131), followed by penguins (22.8%) and cephalopods (17.8%). Myctophids constituted almost 90% of the fish predated, with Electrona antarctica and Gymnoscopelus nicholsi being the most abundant and frequent species consumed. All fish taxa identified were krill feeding species suggesting that seals foraged mainly on a krill and a fish community associated with krill aggregations. However, a seasonal change was observed in the relative proportions of the different prey taxa, with a progressive decrease with time in the occurrence of krill and a concomitant increase of fish, penguins and squid. Possible influence of the strong 1997/98 ENSO event is discussed.