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Weddell seal behaviour during an exceptional oceanographic event in the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf in 2017

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 April 2021

Sara Labrousse
Affiliation:
Sorbonne Universités, UPMC University, Paris 06, UMR 7159, LOCEAN-IPSL F-75005, Paris, France
Svenja Ryan
Affiliation:
Department of Physical Oceanography, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA, USA
Fabien Roquet
Affiliation:
Department of Marine Sciences, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
Baptiste Picard
Affiliation:
Centre d'Études Biologiques de Chizé (CEBC), UMR 7372 Université de la Rochelle-CNRS, 79360 Villiers en Bois, France
Clive R. McMahon
Affiliation:
IMOS Animal Tagging, Sydney Institute of Marine Science, 19 Chowder Bay Road, 2088, Mosman, New South Wales, Australia Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, 2109, Australia Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 129, Hobart, 7001, Tasmania, Australia
Robert Harcourt
Affiliation:
Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, 2109, Australia
Mark Hindell
Affiliation:
Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 129, Hobart, 7001, Tasmania, Australia
Hervé Le Goff
Affiliation:
Sorbonne Universités, UPMC University, Paris 06, UMR 7159, LOCEAN-IPSL F-75005, Paris, France
Antonio Lourenco
Affiliation:
Sorbonne Universités, UPMC University, Paris 06, UMR 7159, LOCEAN-IPSL F-75005, Paris, France
Yves David
Affiliation:
TBM Environnement, 2 rue de Suède, 56400 Auray, France
Jean-Baptiste Sallée
Affiliation:
Sorbonne Universités, UPMC University, Paris 06, UMR 7159, LOCEAN-IPSL F-75005, Paris, France
Jean-Benoit Charrassin
Affiliation:
Sorbonne Universités, UPMC University, Paris 06, UMR 7159, LOCEAN-IPSL F-75005, Paris, France
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

Rapid and regionally contrasting climate changes have been observed around Antarctica. However, our understanding of the impact of these changes on ecosystems remains limited, and there is an urgent need to better identify habitats of Antarctic species. The Weddell seal (Leptonychotes weddellii) is a circumpolar mesopredator and an indicative species of Antarctic marine communities. It has been extensively studied in the western Ross Sea and East Antarctica, and an understanding of its ecology in the Weddell Sea in the wintertime is emerging. We documented the behavioural response(s) of four Weddell seals from February to June in 2017 in the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf region and related these to unusual oceanographic conditions in 2017. Unexpectedly, we found that Weddell seals had the longest foraging effort within the outflow of Ice Shelf Water or at its turbulent boundary. They also foraged on the eastern side of the trough from April to June within the Modified Warm Deep Water and seem to take advantage of the unusual conditions of persistent inflow of warm waters through the winter. Linking animal behavioural responses to oceanographic conditions is informative for quantifying rarely recorded events and provides great insight into how predators may respond to changing conditions.

Type
Biological Sciences
Copyright
Copyright © Antarctic Science Ltd 2021

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