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    Cephalopod diet of the southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina) at King George Island, South Shetland Islands

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    Document Number:
    WG-EMM-99/13
    Author(s):
    G.A. Daneri, A.R. Carlini (Argentina) and P.G.K. Rodhouse (United Kingdom)
    Agenda Item(s)
    Abstract

    In the austral summer of 1995/96, 25 southern elephant seals, Mirounga leonina, were stomach lavaged at Stranger Point, King George Island, South Shetland Islands. Cephalopod remains were present in 72% of the individuals sampled (n=18). Seven species of squid and 3 of octopus were identified. Overall, the squid species Psychroteuthis glacialis was by far the most important prey in terms of numbers (77%), biomass (80.8%) and frequency of occurrence (94.4%). Next in importance in terms of mass in the diet of females was the squid Alluroteuthis antarcticus (7%) whereas the octopodid Pareledone charcoti was in the diet of males (13.2%). Females preyed on a wider variety of squid taxa than males (7 vs. 3) but octopodids occurred only in stomach contents from males. The predominance of P. glacialis in the prey of the South Shetland elephant seals can be explained by the southerly location of the foraging areas of this population compared to South Georgia, Heard and Macquarie Islands, where the diet of Southern elephant seals has previously been analyzed. P. glacialis is the predominant squid in waters close to the Antarctic continent.

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