Cephalopods in the diet of the South African fur seal (Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus)



The stomach contents of 1522 adult seals (Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus) and 673 pups, which were collected around the West and South Coasts of Southern Africa, were examined and cephalopod prey identified. About 20 cephalopod species (some identifications were uncertain) were found in the stomachs, of which only six were significant: Loligo vulgaris reynaudii. Sepia spp., Octopus sp., Todaropsis eblanae, Todarodes angolensis and Ocythoe tuberculata. This list suggests that A. pusillus feeds exclusively on the continental shelf, frequently on or near the bottom. Among adults, cephalopod prey varied in importance around the coast. It was most important on the South Coast of South Africa where it comprised 35.0% of the weight of all prey, of which L. v. veynaudii constituted about 88%. On the West Coast cephalopods comprised about 26.6% by weight of all prey, and Octopus sp. predominated, whereas in Namibian waters cephalopods were least important, constituting only 3.4% by weight of all prey, with Todarodes angolensis and Octopus sp. being most significant. Among pups (aged 8–10 months) in the Lüderitz (Namibia) area, cephalopods were about 16.9% of prey by weight, of which Ocythoe tuberculata, small Sepia spp. and Octopoda were most important.