Implantation of subcutaneous heart rate data loggers in southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina)
Unlike most phocid species (Phocidae), Mirounga leonina (southern elephant seals) experience a catastrophic moult where they not only replace their hair but also their epidermis when ashore for approximately 1 month. Few studies have investigated behavioural and physiological adaptations of southern elephant seals during the moult fast, a particularly energetically costly life cycle’s phase. Recording heart rate is a reliable technique for estimating energy expenditure in the field. For the first time, subcutaneous heart rate data loggers were successfully implanted during the moult in two free-ranging southern elephant seals over 3–6 days. No substantial postoperative complications were encountered and consistent heart rate data were obtained. This promising surgical technique opens new opportunities for monitoring heart rate in phocid seals.
KeywordsMarine mammals Pinnipeds Surgery
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