Food-habitat relationship of harbour seals and black cormorants in Skagerrak and Kattegat



Comparative studies on the food of the black cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo and the harbour seal Phoca vitulina were carried out in two contrasting habitat types. Both species feed predominantly on bottom-dwelling fish. Black cormorants are able to utilize fish found both on vegetation-covered and naked sea beds at a water depth of less than 10 m, while harbour seals feed mainly on soft sea bottoms above 30 m where vegetation is scarce or lacking. The food overlap of the two piscivores is large in environments where large shallow sea bottoms are available, and small in areas where sea bottoms of soft material is found at greater depth. In areas where the shallow bottoms are covered by vegetation only, cormorants are able to feed on the fish species inhabiting this kind of environment. There is no evidence that these predators make a choice regarding prey species.