Polar Biology

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 403–405

First documentation of leopard seal predation of South Georgia pintail duck


  • Ewan W. J. Edwards
    • British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council
    • British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council
  • Glenn T. Crossin
    • Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Monks Wood
Short Note

DOI: 10.1007/s00300-009-0709-z

Cite this article as:
Edwards, E.W.J., Forcada, J. & Crossin, G.T. Polar Biol (2010) 33: 403. doi:10.1007/s00300-009-0709-z


Leopard seals are regular winter visitors to Bird Island, South Georgia, where they mostly prey on fur seals and penguins, and to a lesser extent on Antarctic krill and fish. Leopard seals can exploit many different species, but there are no records of predation on flying shorebirds in the wild. On 4 October 2008, an individually identified juvenile leopard seal female was observed killing and eating a South Georgia Pintail duck. It also preyed on Antarctic fur seals and gentoo and macaroni penguins during its 2-month temporary residency around the island. The varied diet of this seal exemplifies the generalist prey utilization typical of its species. Long-term diet studies at Bird Island and the published record suggest that predation on ducks is a rather exceptional finding; individual ducks are more likely to escape leopard seal attacks than penguins and provide a far less substantial ration. This note documents the first observation of this species of duck in the diet of leopard seals.


Leopard sealPintail duckPredationSouth Georgia

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© Springer-Verlag 2009