Polar Biology

, Volume 35, Issue 11, pp 1767–1772 | Cite as

Killer whale predation on subantarctic fur seals at Prince Edward Island, Southern Indian Ocean

  • P. A. Pistorius
  • M. A. Meÿer
  • R. R. Reisinger
  • S. P. Kirkman
Short Note

Abstract

Killer whales at subantarctic Marion Island have been subjected to several scientific studies. In contrast, up until recently, there has been only one record of these animals documented for neighbouring Prince Edward Island. We here report on killer whale observations at Prince Edward Island during March 2012. During 3 days of opportunistic observations at a fur seal colony on the island, killer whales were sighted on six occasions. These probably represented three different pods numbering 11 individuals in total. During all sightings, individuals were seen hunting subantarctic fur seal pups, with four successful predatory events observed.

Keywords

Population regulation Southern Ocean Apex predators Feeding ecology 

References

  1. Andrews RD, Pitman RL, Ballance LT (2008) Satellite tracking reveals distinct movement patterns for Type B and Type C killer whales in the southern Ross Sea, Antarctica. Polar Biol 31:1461–1468CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baird RW, Whitehead H (2000) Social organization of mammal eating killer whales: group stability and dispersal patterns. Can J Zool 78:2096–2105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Best PB (2007) Whales and dolphins of the southern African subregion. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  4. Bester MN, Ryan PG, Visagie J (2009) Summer survey of fur seals at Prince Edward Island, southern Indian Ocean. Afr J Mar Sci 31:451–455CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bolt HE, Harvey PV, Mandleberg L, Foote AD (2009) Occurrence of killer whales in Scottish inshore waters: temporal and spatial patterns relative to the distribution of declining harbour seal populations. Aquat Cons Mar Freshw Ecosys 19:671–675CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chown SL, Froneman PW (2008) The Prince Edward Islands. Land–sea interactions in a changing ecosystem. Sun Media, StellenboschGoogle Scholar
  7. Condy PR, van Aarde RJ, Bester MN (1978) The seasonal occurrence and behaviour of killer whales Orcinus orca, at Marion Island. J Zool (Lond) 184:449–464CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Crawford RJM, Whittington PA, Upfold L, Ryan PG, Petersen SL, Dyer BM, Cooper J (2009) Recent trends in numbers of four species of penguins at the Prince Edward Islands. Afr J Mar Sci 31:419–426CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dahlheim ME, Schulman-Janiger A, Black N, Ternullo R, Ellifrit D, Balcomb KC (2008) Eastern temperate North Pacific offshore killer whales (Orcinus orca): occurrence, movements, and insights into feeding ecology. Mar Mamm Sci 24:719–729CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ferguson SH, Kingsley MCS, Higdon JF (2012) Killer whale (Orcinus orca) predation in a multi-prey system. Popul Ecol 54:31–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ford JKB, Ellis GM (2006) Selective foraging by fish-eating killer whales Orcinus orca in British Columbia. MEPS 316:185–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Guinet C (1991) Intentional stranding apprenticeship and social play in killer whales (Orcinus orca). Can J Zool 69:2712–2716CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Guinet C, Barrett-Lennard LG, Loyer B (2000) Co-ordinated attack behavior and prey sharing by killer whales at Crozet Archipelago: strategies for feeding on negatively-buoyant prey. Mar Mamm Sci 16:829–834CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Heise K, Barrett-Lennard LG, Saulitis E, Matkin C, Bain D (2003) Examining the evidence for killer whale predation on Steller sea lions in British Columbia and Alaska. Aquat Mamm 29:325–334CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Herman DP, Burrows DG, Wade PR, Durban JW, Matkin CO, Leduc RG, Barrett-Lennard LG, Krahn MM (2005) Feeding ecology of eastern North Pacific killer whales Orcinus orca from fatty acid, stable isotope, and organochlorine analyses of blubber biopsies. MEPS 302:275–291CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hofmeyr GJG, Bester MN, Makhado AB, Pistorius PA (2006) Population changes in subantarctic and antarctic fur seals at Marion Island. S Afr J Wildl Res 36:55–68Google Scholar
  17. Hofmeyr GJG, Bester MN, Pistorius PA, Mulaudzi TW, de Bruyn PJN, Ramunasi JA, Tshithabane HN, McIntyre T, Radzilani PM (2007) Median pupping date, pup mortality and sex ratio of fur seals at Marion Island. S Afr J Wildl Res 37:1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Horning M, Mellish J-AE (2012) Predation on an upper trophic marine predator, the Steller sea lion: evaluating high juvenile mortality in a density dependent conceptual framework. PLoS One 7:e30173. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0030173 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Keith M, Bester MN, Bartlett PA, Baker D (2001) Killer whales (Orcinus orca) at Marion Island, Southern Ocean. Afr Zool 36:163–175Google Scholar
  20. Krahn MM, Pitman RL, Burrows DG, Herman DP, Pearce RW (2008) Use of chemical tracers to assess diet and persistent organic pollutants in antarctic type C killer whales. Mar Mamm Sci 24:643–663CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lopez JC, Lopez D (1985) Killer whale (Orcinus orca) of Patagonia, and their behaviour of intentional stranding while hunting nearshore. J Mamm 66:181–183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Pistorius PA, Taylor FE, Louw C, Hanise B, Bester MN, de Wet C, du Plooy A, Green N, Klasen S, Podile S, Schoeman J (2002) Distribution, movement, and estimated population size of killer whales at Marion Island, December 2000. S Afr J Wildl Res 32:86–92Google Scholar
  23. Pitman RL, Ensor P (2003) Three forms of killer whales (Orcinus orca) in Antarctic waters. J Cetacean Res Manag 5:131–139Google Scholar
  24. Pitman RL, Durban JW, Greenfelder M, Guinet C, Jorgensen M, Olson PA, Plana J, Tixier P, Towers JR (2011) Observations of a distinctive morphotype of killer whale (Orcinus orca), type D, from subantarctic waters. Polar Biol 34:303–306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Reisinger RR, de Bruyn PJN, Bester MN (2010) Marion Island killer whales: 2006–2009. Mammal Research Institute. University of Pretoria, PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  26. Reisinger RR, de Bruyn PJN, Bester MN (2011a) Predatory impact of killer whales on pinniped and penguin populations at the subantarctic Prince Edward Islands: fact and fiction. J Zool 285:1–10Google Scholar
  27. Reisinger RR, de Bruyn PJN, Bester MN (2011b) Mark-recapture abundance estimates of killer whales at subantarctic Marion Island. Aquat Biol 12:177–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Reisinger RR, de Bruyn PJN, Tosh CA, Oosthuizen WC, Mufanadzo NT, Bester MN (2011c) Prey and seasonal abundance of killer whales at subantarctic Marion Island. Afr J Mar Sci 33:99–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ryan PG, Bester MN (2008) Pelagic predators. In: Chown SL, Froneman PW (eds) The Prince Edward Islands: land–sea interactions in a changing ecosystem. Sun Media, StellenboschGoogle Scholar
  30. Tosh C, de Bruyn PJN, Bester MN (2008) Preliminary analysis of the social structure of killer whales (Orcinus orca) at subantarctic Marion Island. Mar Mamm Sci 24:929–940Google Scholar
  31. Williams TM, Estes JA, Doak DF, Springer AM (2004) Killer appetites: assessing the role of predators in ecological communities. Ecology 85:3373–3384CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. A. Pistorius
    • 1
  • M. A. Meÿer
    • 2
  • R. R. Reisinger
    • 3
  • S. P. Kirkman
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyNelson Mandela Metropolitan UniversityPort ElizabethSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Environmental AffairsOceans and CoastsRogge BaySouth Africa
  3. 3.Department of Zoology and Entomology, Mammal Research InstituteUniversity of PretoriaHatfieldSouth Africa
  4. 4.Animal Demography Unit, Department of ZoologyUniversity of Cape TownRondeboschSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations