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Winter foraging hot spots of southern elephant seal males from King George Island and oceanography

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Bornemann, H. , de Bruyn, P. J. N. , Reisinger, R. R. , Schröder, M. , Fillinger, L. , McIntyre, T. , Tosh, C. A. , Márquez, M. E. I. , Bester, M. N. and Plötz, J. (2012): Winter foraging hot spots of southern elephant seal males from King George Island and oceanography , SCAR XXXII & Open Science Conference, Portland, OR, USA, 13 July 2012 - 25 July 2012 .
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Abstract:

Deployments of ARGOS satellite transmitters on adult southern elephant seal males at King George Island in 2010 represent a follow-up study of an earlier project in 2000/2001. Males had either moved along the Bransfield Strait and around the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula or deep into the winter pack ice of the southern Weddell Sea. The latter finding could not be reproduced, though seals travelled on comparably extended latitudinal gradients between King George Island / Isla 25 de Mayo and South Georgia or the southern Bellingshausen Sea. The recent movements seem to contradict patterns of sexual segregation interpreted from earlier studies, suggesting more overlap between foraging grounds of adult males and females then previously assumed. As far as we could track individuals, most post-moult movements were oriented to South Georgia towards the breeding season and back thereafter. The seals' long and straight line movements at distances of more than 1500 km allowed for cross sectional analyses of hydrographic features and revealed information on the temperature and salinity regime during winter. All seals showed extended residence times at specific circumscribed at-sea locations, considered as foraging hot spots. These spots were widely distributed within the Bellingshausen and northern Weddell Seas and seem to be linked to bathymetric features, such as slopes, seamounts or plateaus. The study involves scientists from South Africa (MRI), Argentina (IAA) and Germany (AWI) in a synoptic approach of the investigation of the movement behaviour of southern elephant seals from King George Island and Marion Island, and highlights our long-time collaboration within the "Year of Science" of South Africa and Germany in 2012/13.

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