Southern elephant seals from Kerguelen Islands confronted by Antarctic Sea ice. Changes in movements and in diving behaviour

Type Article
Date 2007-02
Language English
Author(s) Bailleul Frédéric1, Charrassin Jean-Benoit2, Ezraty Robert3, Ardhuin FannyORCID3, 4, McMahon Clive R.5, Field Iain C.5, Guinet Christophe1
Affiliation(s) 1 : CNRS, Ctr Etudes Biol Chizes, F-79360 Villiers En Bois, France.
2 : Museum Natl Hist Nat, DMPA, Equipe Phys Ocean Austral, Paris, France.
3 : IFREMER, Lab Oceanog spatiale, F-29280 Plouzane, France.
4 : Ctr Natl Etud Spatiales, F-75001 Paris, France.
5 : Univ Tasmania, Sch Zool, Antarctic Wildlife Res Unit, Hobart, Tas 7001, Australia.
Source Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography (0967-0645) (Elsevier), 2007-02 , Vol. 54 , N. 3-4 , P. 343-355
DOI 10.1016/j.dsr2.2006.11.005
WOS© Times Cited 77
Keyword(s) Mirounga leonina, Diving Behaviour, Pelagic environment, Benthic environment, Temperature profiles, Marine ecology
Abstract The behaviour of southern elephant seals from Kerguelen Island (4950′S, 7030′E) was investigated in relation to the oceanographic regions of the Southern Ocean. The oceanographic and the seal behaviour data, including location and diving activity, were collected using a new generation of satellite-relayed devices measuring and transmitting pressure, temperature, and salinity along with locations. Dive duration, maximum diving depth, time spent at the bottom of the dives, and shape of dive profiles were compared between male and female seals, and were related to the oceanographic characteristics of areas prospected by the seals. Most animals travelled to the Antarctic shelf. However, during winter, adult females travelled away from the continent, remained and foraged within the marginal sea-ice zone, while juvenile males remained within the pack ice to forage mainly on the Antarctic shelf. Therefore, as the ice expanded females appeared to shift from benthic to pelagic foraging farther north, while males continued to forage almost exclusively benthically on the continental shelf. This difference is likely related to the different energetic requirements between the two sexes, but also may be related to pregnant females having to return to Kerguelen in early spring in order to give birth and successfully raise their pups, while males can remain in the ice. Our results show an important link between elephant seals and Antarctic sea ice and suggest that changes in sea-ice conditions could strongly affect the behaviour of this species.
Full Text
File Pages Size Access
publication-2500.pdf 26 304 KB Open access
Top of the page

How to cite 

Bailleul Frédéric, Charrassin Jean-Benoit, Ezraty Robert, Ardhuin Fanny, McMahon Clive R., Field Iain C., Guinet Christophe (2007). Southern elephant seals from Kerguelen Islands confronted by Antarctic Sea ice. Changes in movements and in diving behaviour. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, 54(3-4), 343-355. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :