The nightlife of a Ross seal: diving and haul-out behaviour from the eastern Weddell Sea

horst.bornemann [ at ]


<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title> <jats:p>Ross seals (<jats:italic>Ommatophoca rossii</jats:italic>) travel away from the pack ice and spend most of their year foraging pelagically. Here, we augment the few existing records of Ross seal diving and haul-out behaviour, providing novel insights into how these are influenced diurnally and seasonally. We used biologging devices that recorded the dive behaviour (<jats:italic>n</jats:italic> = 5) and/or haul-out behaviour (<jats:italic>n</jats:italic> = 9) of Ross seals in the eastern Weddell Sea (2016–2019). Ross seals mostly dived between 100 and 200 m deep, often &gt; 300 m, and for 5–12 min in duration, often &gt; 20 min. During March–July, when Ross seals forage pelagically, diving metrics varied diurnally. The seals dived deeper during twilight and shallowest at night, while the number of dives and diving duration did not follow a clear diurnal pattern. Consequently, diving effort was highest during the night. Ross seals preferentially hauled out in the middle of the day during September, October, February and December, but not during the rest of the year. Three females that entered the pack ice during breeding season were hauled out continuously for 5–7 days, punctuated by water entries for 1–3 h during and/or after such continuous haul-outs over the breeding season. This behaviour might suggest that Ross seals alternate between capital and facultative income breeding.</jats:p>

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Published online
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DOI 10.1017/s0954102022000438

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Wege, M. , Bornemann, H. and Bester, M. N. (2023): The nightlife of a Ross seal: diving and haul-out behaviour from the eastern Weddell Sea , Antarctic Science, pp. 1-12 . doi: 10.1017/s0954102022000438

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