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Haul-out behaviour of ringed and bearded seals in relation to defence against surface predators

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The ringed seal, Phoca hispida, hauls out at the edge of self-maintained breathing holes or narrow cracks, either in fast ice or in the centre of large floes in pack ice, apparently because this reduces its vulnerability to capture by polar bears, Ursus maritimus. Antipredator behaviour of ringed seals at haul-out sites also includes lying facing both their breathing hole and downwind, and vigilance. The much larger bearded seal, Erignathus barbatus, hauls out on the edges of wide leads or large holes in the ice, or on the points of small ice floes, and also faces both the water and downwind. Ice-associated seals which are not threatened by surface predators do not show these behaviour patterns.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1991-07-01

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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