Seasonal and regional variations in the feeding habits of the harbour seal, Phoca vitulina, in the Skagerrak and the Kattegat

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Abstract

Studies of the feeding of harbour seals have been carried out at the Tjärnö Marine Biological Laboratory since 1977. The studies are based on fish otoliths found in faeces at seal haulouts. The present paper compares feeding habitats at two different localities. Three families of fish, gadoids, pleuronectids and clupeoids were predominant in the seals' diet at a rocky shore habitat. Pleuronectids made up 75% of the diet at a sandy shore habitat. Temporal variations in feeding habits are also examined. The results indicate that harbour seals are opportunists in their choice of prey species, but some locally abundant species do not appear in their diet.

Ancillary