Migrations and foraging of juvenile southern elephant seals from Macquarie Island within CCAMLR managed areas
Twenty-three juvenile (8–14 months of age) southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina L.) from Macquarie Island were tracked during 1993 and 1995. Migratory tracks and ocean areas with concentrated activity, presumed to be foraging grounds, were established from location data gathered by attached geolocation-time depth recorders. The seals ranged widely (811–3258 km) and foraging activity centred on oceanographic frontal systems, especially the Antarctic Polar Front and bathymetric features such as the Campbell Plateau region. The seals spent 58.6% of their sea time within managed fishery areas while the remainder was spent on the high seas, an area of unregulated fishing. The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) areas 58.4.1, 88.2 and especially 88.1 were important and distant foraging areas for these juvenile elephant seals. From fisheries records, diet and the foraging ecology studies of the seals there appears to be little, if any, overlap or conflict between the seals and commercial fishing operations within the regulated commercial areas. However, attention is drawn to the possibility of future interactions if Southern Ocean fisheries expand or new ones commence.(Received November 23 2001)
(Accepted March 25 2002)
Key Words: fisheries management areas; foraging areas; geolocation; Mirounga leonina; ocean fronts.