Polar Biology

, Volume 40, Issue 11, pp 2307–2312 | Cite as

Implantation of subcutaneous heart rate data loggers in southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina)

  • Laureline L. Chaise
  • William Paterson
  • Timothy G. Laske
  • Susan L. Gallon
  • Dominic J. McCafferty
  • Marc Théry
  • André Ancel
  • Caroline Gilbert
Short Note


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.


Marine mammals Pinnipeds Surgery 



The present research project was supported by the Institut Polaire Français Paul-Emile Victor (IPEV program 1037). We thank the Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises for logistic support, Christophe Guinet (CEBC CNRS; IPEV program 109) for facilitating fieldwork and also Lucas Delalande and Ásgeir Bjarnason for valuable assistance.


The overall study was funded by the Institut Polaire Français Paul-Emile Victor (IPEV Program 1037 HEnergES), doctoral fellowships of French Ministry of Higher Education and Research (Graduate School 227 of National Museum of Natural History, University of Pierre and Marie Curie), the University of St Andrews, the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS) and the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

Elephant seal work (Program IPEV 1037, HENERGES) was approved by The Antarctic Committee for Environmental Protection and the Ethic Committee (Cometh ANSES/ENVA/UPEC n°16: n°14-055 and n°15-061). The program was also authorised by the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (Decree 2014-131, 15th October 2014; Decree 2015-110, 4th September 2015). All applicable international, national and institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institution or practice at which the studies were conducted.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

300_2017_2144_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (101 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 100 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laureline L. Chaise
    • 1
  • William Paterson
    • 2
  • Timothy G. Laske
    • 3
  • Susan L. Gallon
    • 4
  • Dominic J. McCafferty
    • 4
  • Marc Théry
    • 1
  • André Ancel
    • 5
  • Caroline Gilbert
    • 1
    • 6
  1. 1.UMR 7179 CNRS / MNHNBrunoyFrance
  2. 2.Sea Mammal Research Unit, Scottish Oceans InstituteUniversity of St AndrewsSt AndrewsUK
  3. 3.Department of SurgeryUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  4. 4.The Scottish Centre for Ecology and the Natural Environment, Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative MedicineUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowScotland, UK
  5. 5.Université de Strasbourg, CNRS, IPHC UMR 7178StrasbourgFrance
  6. 6.Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire Paris Est, bât. BCG – éthologieMaisons-AlfortFrance

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