SEASONAL CHANGES IN FOOD INTAKE OF HARP SEALS (PHOCA GROENLANDICA) AT 69°N

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Abstract

Food intake (PI), body mass (BM), and compartmental growth were recorded for 12 mo in four captive 2–4-yr-old male harp seals (Phoca groenlandica), exposed to an artificial light regime that closely resembled natural day length at 69°. In early May before molting, both FZ and BM decreased in all four animals. Total body fat (TBF) declined from 51% of BM in March (n = 4) to 30% in August (n = 2), while total body water (TBW) concomitantly increased from 37% to 51% and total body protein (TBP) from 11% to 17%. In July FI started to increase, while BM started to increase in August. TBF increased while TBW and TBP decreased from August, all three parameters reaching a stable level in October at 47%, 39%, and 12%, respectively. Thereafter, body composition was maintained rather constant until May. Between October and March/April FI fluctuated for all animals, while BM showed a fairly steady increase. Average daily amount of capelin consumed was 2.67 kg·d−1, equivalent to 25,600 kJ·d−1, or 343 kJ·kg−1·d−1.

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