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Keywords:

  • Saimaa ringed seal;
  • Phoca hispida saimensis;
  • diving behavior;
  • activity;
  • testing dives;
  • radio telemetry

Abstract

The activity and diving patterns of four adult Saimaa ringed seals (Phoca hispida saimensis, a landlocked subspecies living in Lake Saimaa, Finland) were examined during spring, summer, and autumn by the use of VHF-transmitters. Over 17,000 dives were registered. The duration of the dives and diving patterns differed among individuals. The mean duration of dives increased from spring to autumn; e.g., in one individual the mean dive duration increased from 6 min in June to 10.5 min in October. The haul-out periods of one individual in May to early June made up 46.2% of its total activity budget, but in another individual in July to August the haul-out periods made up only 11% of the budget and the seal was submerged for 80% of the time. Periods of successive long duration dives (>10 min) were observed in three individuals in summer and autumn. The longest dive measured was 23 min. The duration of the periods containing long dives was often over three hours (maximum six hours) and the mean duration of the dives about 15 min. These long duration dives are assumed to be aerobic resting dives. Generally, the dives of the Saimaa ringed seal appear to be of longer duration than previously assumed.