IDENTIFYING DIURNAL FORAGING HABITAT OF ENDANGERED HAWAIIAN MONK SEALS USING A SEAL-MOUNTED VIDEO CAMERA
Article first published online: 26 AUG 2006
Marine Mammal Science
Volume 16, Issue 2, pages 392–412, April 2000
How to Cite
Parrish, F. A., Craig, M. P., Ragen, T. J., Marshall, G. J. and Buhleier, B. M. (2000), IDENTIFYING DIURNAL FORAGING HABITAT OF ENDANGERED HAWAIIAN MONK SEALS USING A SEAL-MOUNTED VIDEO CAMERA. Marine Mammal Science, 16: 392–412. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-7692.2000.tb00932.x
- Issue published online: 26 AUG 2006
- Article first published online: 26 AUG 2006
- Received: 12 March 1999, Accepted: 30 September 1999
- Hawaiian monk seal;
- Monachus schauinslandi;
- foraging habitat;
- endangered species
The Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi) is thought to be a foraging generalist, preying on numerous species in diverse habitats of the subtropical Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. At the atoll of French Frigate Shoals, recent evidence of emaciation and low survival in monk seals prompted a search for their specific prey communities and foraging habitat.
A video camera (National Geographic Television's CRITTERCAM) fitted to 24 adult male seals documented benthic and demersal foraging on the deep slopes (50-80 m) of the atoll and neighboring banks. The number of bottom searches for prey was compared by year, time of day, type of bottom, individual seal, and length of bottom time. Analysis of variance identified a significant interaction of seal and bottom type, explaining 65% of the total variance. Seals fed on communities of cryptic fauna (fish and large invertebrates) in transitional “ecotone” regions of low relief where consolidated substrate, rubble, and talus bordered areas of sand. Independent areal surveys of bottom types throughout the atoll and neighboring banks suggest that the type of bottom selected as foraging habitat represents a relatively small percentage of the total benthic area available.