Feeding habits of harp and hooded seals in drift ice waters along the east coast of Greenland in summer and winter

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Haug, Tore ; Nilssen, Kjell T. ; Lindblom, Lotta (2004)

Results of analyses of stomach and intestinal contents from hooded (Cystophora cristata) and harp (Phoca groenlandica) seals captured in the pack ice belt of the Greenland Sea in summer (July-August) in 2000 and winter (February-March) in 2001 revealed that the diet of both species were comprised of relatively few prey taxa. Pelagic amphipods of the genus Parathemisto, the squid Gonatus fabricii, polar cod (Boreogadus saida) and capelin (Mallotus villosus) constituted 63-99% of the observed diet biomass in both seal species, irrespective of sampling period, but their relative contribution to the diet varied both with species and sampling period/area. For hooded seals, G. fabricii and capelin were the dominant food items in winter 2001, but the summer 2000 diet comprised a mixture of this squid and polar cod. Parathemisto was most important for the harp seals during summer 2000; in winter 2001 the contribution from krill and capelin were comparable to that of Parathemisto. Multivariate analyses revealed differences in the intestinal contents of hooded and harp seals in areas where the two species’ occurrence spatially overlapped. Different foraging depths of the two species may have contributed to the observed differences in diets.
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