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Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, Russia

Belonovich O.A.,Texas A&M University | Fomin S.V.,Kamchatka Branch of the Pacific Geographical Institute | Burkanov V.N.,Kamchatka Branch of the Pacific Geographical Institute | Andrews R.D.,Alaska SeaLife Center | And 2 more authors.
Polar Biology | Year: 2015

We characterized the foraging behavior and habitat associations of lactating female northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus) from two of four rookeries comprising the stable population on the Commander Islands (CI). The CI females included in the study were from Severo-Zapadnoe rookery (SZR in 2008 and 2009) and Servernoe rookery (SR in 2009) which are 16 km apart on the northern tip of Bering Island (BI). We used satellite-linked tags and time–depth recorders to track the animals at sea and record dive behavior. For SZR females, the average foraging trip duration, mean dive depth, and maximum travel distance for both years were 3.4 ± 1.42 days, 16 ± 9.8 m, and 85 ± 59.6 km, respectively. The same measures for SR females were 4.4 ± 1.90 days, 20 ± 9.7 m, and 159 ± 70.8 km, respectively. The mean duration of foraging trips, mean number of bouts per trip and trip duration, mean direction of foraging trips, and size of foraging areas were significantly different between females from SR and SZR. Foraging trips of females from neither rookery were associated with high chl-a concentration. Overall, females on the CI appeared to expend less time and energy during foraging trips than females on the Pribilof Islands, and this may explain why the latter population is declining while the CI population is stable. © 2015 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg

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