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Keywords:

  • foraging;
  • diving;
  • otariid;
  • fur seal;
  • Arctocephalus philippii;
  • maternal

Abstract

Previous studies of fur seals suggest that the attendance patterns and consequent temporal patterning of energy transfer from mother to pup follows a latitudinal cline. While data from subpolar, tropical, and some temperate latitude species support the postulated cline, data for the temperate latitude Juan Fernández fur seal do not. Maternal foraging trips and associated visits ashore were the longest of all otariids studied to date. The first foraging trip postpartum averaged 10.2 d (n= 51 females, range 1–22.5), foraging trips combined averaged 12.3 d (n= 100, range 1.0-25.0), and visits ashore averaged 5.3 d (n= 91, range 0.3-15.8) over the three seasons of study. Only duration of lactation was intermediate between subpolar and tropical strategies as predicted. Dive records suggest that these females feed almost exclusively at night at depths of less than 10 m and at distances of more than 500 km offshore. The prey species of this fur seal, primarily myctophids and squid, migrate to the surface at night and are patchily distributed. Foraging trip length varied between years in conjunction with shifts in seasurface temperature and type of prey consumed. We suggest that distribution of prey, irrespective of latitude, dictates foraging patterns of fur seals and leads to the exceptionally long foraging trips and visits ashore observed in this species.