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Dive types and circadian behaviour patterns of Saimaa ringed sealsPhoca hispida saimensis during the open-water season

Abstract

Diving and circadian behaviour patterns of 7 free-ranging Saimaa ringed sealsPhoca hispida saimensis Nordquist, 1899 were examined by VHF-radiotelemetry during open-water seasons between May and November in Lake Saimaa, eastern Finland. The mean recorded dive duration ranged from 2.8 to 6.5 min, with a maximum of 21 min. The mean dive depth ranged from 9.8 to 15.7 m, with maximum of 39.6 m. The maximum dive depth of each seal was limited by water depth in the study area. The dive depths were positively correlated with dive duration and body mass of the seal. Five different dive types were defined, as based on their depth-time characteristics, each falling into one of the three functional categories: travelling, feeding, and resting. Long duration diving bouts occurred mostly at night and were presumed to be resting dives. Saimaa ringed seals exhibited a circadian pattern of haul-out behaviour that shifted seasonally. During molting (May–June) the seals hauled-out both day and night, but later in summer haul-out was more frequent at night.

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Correspondence to Mervi Kunnasranta.

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Kunnasranta, M., Hyvärinen, H., Häkkinen, J. et al. Dive types and circadian behaviour patterns of Saimaa ringed sealsPhoca hispida saimensis during the open-water season. Acta Theriol 47, 63–72 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03193567

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Key words

  • Phoca hispida saimensis
  • diving behaviour
  • hauling-out
  • seals