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Variability in the diet of ringed seals, Phoca hispida, in Alaska

Variability in the diet of ringed seals, Phoca hispida, in Alaska

Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 3712: 2254-2261

Analysis of stomach contents of ringed seals (P. hispida) collected at 8 locations along the Alaskan coast showed significant seasonal and regional differences in diet. During the spring-summer period saffron cod (Eleginus gracilis) was the most important food item in the nearshore zone of the northeastern Bering and southeastern Chukchi Seas. In that period shrimps (Pandalus spp., Eualus spp., Lebbeus polaris and Crangon septemspinosa) were the major food in the northcentral Bering Sea, hyperiid amphipods (Parathemisto libellula) in the central Beaufort Sea and euphausiids (Thysanoessa spp.) in the boundary region (Barrow area) between the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. During late summer-early hyperiid amphipods were important foods in the central Beaufort and the southeastern Chukchi. The autumn diet of seals in Norton Sound included mainly saffron cod. During winter-early spring Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida) predominated the diet at all localities. During spring and early summer in the northeastern Bering and southeastern Chukchi Seas the amount of saffron cod consumed was directly correlated with age. In the Beaufort Sea during autumn and winter Arctic cod were eaten in similar amounts by all age-classes. An analysis of the energy value and quantities of prey consumed indicates that prey species that occur in concentrations (Arctic and saffron cods, hyperiid amphipods, euphausiids and some shrimps) are of particular importance in the annual nutrition of ringed seals. These seals may be food limited in areas and during times when these kinds of prey are not available.

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Accession: 001030111

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DOI: 10.1139/f80-270

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