Foraging behaviour of Cape clawless otters (Aonyx capensis) in a marine habitat



The foraging behaviour of Cape clawless otters Aonyx capensis was investigated. Factors included: duration of dives, recovery times, processing times, hunting success, per cent time at the surface, and time foraging before each catch. Observations were made during the day on solitary adult A. capensis in a marine environment in False Bay, South Africa. There were significant differences in duration of unsuccessful dives, recovery times, and processing times as well as successful dives with various depths. Aonyx capensis prefer hunting at depths of 0.5–1.5 m. This is despite having a higher hunting success, catching larger, more energy-rich prey (fish), and shortest time foraging per catch, at depths of 1.5–2.5 m. Some of the data presented support the optimal breathing hypothesis, which predicts that both surface and dive times should increase for dives of greater depths. However, diving efficiency does not decrease with increasing depth, and percentage time at the surface does not increase with increasing depth. These are contrary to the optimal breathing hypothesis.