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Le Touquet – Paris-Plage, France

Chambault P.,CNRS Hubert Curien Multi-disciplinary Institute | de Thoisy B.,Association Kwata | Heerah K.,LOCEAN UMR 7159 | Conchon A.,Collecte Localisation Satellites | And 8 more authors.
Progress in Oceanography | Year: 2016

The circulation in the Western Equatorial Atlantic is characterized by a highly dynamic mesoscale activity that shapes the Guiana continental shelf. Olive ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) nesting in French Guiana cross this turbulent environment during their post-nesting migration. We studied how oceanographic and biological conditions drove the foraging behavior of 18 adult females, using satellite telemetry, remote sensing data (sea surface temperature, sea surface height, current velocity and euphotic depth), simulations of micronekton biomass (pelagic organisms) and in situ records (water temperature and salinity). The occurrence of foraging events throughout migration was located using Residence Time analysis, while an innovative proxy of the hunting time within a dive was used to identify and quantify foraging events during dives. Olive ridleys migrated northwestwards using the Guiana current and remained on the continental shelf at the edge of eddies formed by the North Brazil retroflection, an area characterized by low turbulence and high micronekton biomass. They performed mainly pelagic dives, hunting for an average 77% of their time. Hunting time within a dive increased with shallower euphotic depth and with lower water temperatures, and mean hunting depth increased with deeper thermocline. This is the first study to quantify foraging activity within dives in olive ridleys, and reveals the crucial role played by the thermocline on the foraging behavior of this carnivorous species. This study also provides novel and detailed data describing how turtles actively use oceanographic structures during post-nesting migration. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd.

Heerah K.,LOCEAN UMR 7159 | Andrews-Goff V.,University of Tasmania | Williams G.,LOCEAN UMR 7159 | Williams G.,University of Tasmania | And 4 more authors.
Deep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography | Year: 2013

Studying the foraging strategies of top predators can provide information on both how animals interact with their environment and the distribution of their prey. We studied the winter foraging behaviour of Weddell seals in Adélie Land, East Antarctica, and the influence of abiotic parameters (bathymetry, hydrology, sea ice, light intensity) on their foraging behaviour. A total of six seals were fitted with Conductivity Temperature Depth Satellite Relayed Data Loggers (CTD-SRDL) at Dumont D'Urville (~67°S, 140°E) during the austral winters in 2007 and 2008. The tags transmitted positions and dive information over 169±31 day, providing a total of 20,400 dive profiles and 2350 CTD profiles. Significant environmental influences on seal diving behaviour and habitat use were detected. Seals dived deeper, longer and increased their foraging effort during the day than at night with intermediate values for twilight. During the winter season the maximum dive depth decreased in association with an increase in dive duration, but foraging effort was unchanged. Seals spent more time at the bottom of their dives in shallow waters associated with relatively smooth bathymetry and dominated by Antarctic Surface Water. Considering the whole winter, Weddell seals tended to favour enriched, warmer and less dense water masses following their seasonal appearance on the shelf (Antarctic Surface Water and Modified Circumpolar Deep Water). Our results are consistent with seals feeding primarily on Pleuragramma antarcticum during winter, tracking their vertical diel migrations and foraging in areas associated with bathymetric and hydrographic features likely to concentrate prey patches. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

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