Vagrant Antarctic pinnipeds at Gough Island
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Opportunistic sightings of Antarctic fur seals Arctocephalus gazella and a leopard seal Hydrurga leptonyx at Gough Island (40°20′S, 09°54′W) in the South Atlantic Ocean represent the northernmost island records for vagrant Antarctic fur seals, and only the second for a vagrant leopard seal at Gough Island. Some ten different individual Antarctic fur seals were sighted on a single day, up to seven on a single beach. An overall total of 18 individuals were recorded over a 7-week period in October/November 2005, before the onset of the breeding (pupping) season of the resident population of Subantarctic fur seals Arctocephalus tropicalis. Most were immature, male and mostly in good condition (n = 11, 61%); one mature male and six putative females were also present. All had departed after 23 November, although only a fraction of the available beaches was searched.
KeywordsBeach Subadult Male Southern Elephant Seal Leopard Seal Antarctic Polar Front
Logistical support at Gough Island was provided by the South African Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism through the South African National Antarctic Programme. Financial support was obtained from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the University of Cape Town. Research at Gough Island is conducted with the permission of the Administrator and Island Council of Tristan da Cunha. Nico de Bruyn, Greg Hofmeyr and Peter Ryan commented on earlier drafts of the manuscript. The comments from two referees and the editor greatly improved the manuscript.
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