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KASTELEIN, R. A., KERSHAW, J. & WIEPKEMA, P. R. (1991)

The food consumption of Southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina)

Aquatic Mammals 17 (2): 76-87.

Summary:

This study concerns the food consumption of 1 male and 2 female Southern elephant seals at Marineland, Antibes, France. The females' food intake increased for about 3 years after which it stabilized at around 3'400 kg/year. The male's annual intake  reached a peak of 11'600 kg during his 6th year after which it dropped and stabilized at around 8'000 kg/year. Although the animals were allowed to eat as much as they wanted, the food intake fluctuated seasonally. The annual periods with low food intake correspond with the breeding (after maturity) and moulting seasons in both sexes. After each moult, the animals increased their food consumption to replenish their energy reserves. In relation to their body weight, the animals ate less than the rough estimate normally used for animals in the wild. This could be because, at Marineland, the air and water temperatures are higher, the diet has a higher energy contents and less energy is needed for feeding than in the wild.

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