At-sea movements and habitat use of adult male Australian fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus)

Authors: Kirkwood, Roger; Lynch, Michael; Gales, Nick; Dann, Peter; Sumner, Michael

Source: Canadian Journal of Zoology, Volume 84, Number 12, December 2006 , pp. 1781-1788(8)

Publisher: NRC Research Press

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Abstract:

Foraging by adult male otariids, a demographic component that often interacts with commercial fisheries, are poorly known. To assess movement patterns and habitat use, nine adult male Australian fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus Wood Jones, 1925) from Seal Rocks, in northern Bass Strait, southeastern Australia, were tracked for periods ranging from 66 to 223d during 1999–2001. Mean± SD at-sea and on-land durations were 6.9± 2.1d (range 2.3–10.3d, n = 9 seals) and 2.4± 0.9d (range 0.8–4.1d), respectively. All seals foraged almost exclusively in continental shelf waters and mostly (65%–97% of time at sea) in water columns that were between 40 and 100m deep. Six of nine seals tracked for>30d spent 64%–98% of their time-at-sea foraging at distances<200km from Seal Rocks, although the maximum distance achieved from the colony was 1208km. The seals’ foraging ranges overlapped with the ranges of operation of virtually all fin-fish fisheries in southeastern Australia, but fisheries overlap was low in the most frequented foraging area of central-western Bass Strait.

La recherche de nourriture par les otariidés mâles adultes, une composante démographique qui affecte les pêches commerciales, reste mal connue. Afin de déterminer leurs patrons de déplacement et leur utilisation de l’habitat, nous avons suivi neuf otaries à fourrure d’Australie (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus Wood Jones, 1925) adultes mâles pendant des périodes allant de 66 à 223 j en 1999–2001. Les durées moyennes ± ET des séjours en mer et sur terre sont respectivement de 6,9 ± 2,1 j (étendue de 2,3 à 10,3 j, n = 9 otaries) et de 2,4 ± 0,9 j (étendue de 0,8 à 4,1 j). Toutes les otaries se nourrissent presque exclusivement dans les eaux du plateau continental et le plus souvent (65% à 97% du temps en mer) dans des colonnes d’eau de 40 à 100 m de profondeur. Six des neuf otaries suivies pour >30 j ont passé de 64% à 98% de leur temps en mer à se nourrir à des distances de <200 km de Seal Rocks, bien que la distance maximale atteinte depuis la colonie fût de 1208 km. Les aires d’alimentation des otaries chevauchent les aires d’opération de pratiquement toutes les pêches commerciales de poissons à nageoires du sud-est de l’Australie, mais le chevauchement des aires de pêches commerciales est faible dans les aires d’alimentation les plus fréquentées du centre-ouest du détroit de Bass.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2006

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