Polar Biology

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 403–405 | Cite as

First documentation of leopard seal predation of South Georgia pintail duck

  • Ewan W. J. Edwards
  • Jaume Forcada
  • Glenn T. Crossin
Short Note


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 seal Pintail duck Predation South Georgia 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ewan W. J. Edwards
    • 1
  • Jaume Forcada
    • 1
  • Glenn T. Crossin
    • 2
  1. 1.British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research CouncilCambridgeUK
  2. 2.Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Monks WoodHuntingdonUK

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