Un éléphant marin mâle

Male sea elephants risk their lives more than usual for food

The various studies carried out in Marine biology made it possible to understand the development of several marine, estuarine and coastal organisms. Until recently, marine biologists have noticed that male elephant seals take great risks to look for food. Thus, the probability of succumbing while searching for food is much greater high in males than in females.

Furthermore, the study revealed that both male and female elephant seals are radically different with regard to their how and where they feed. In addition, the diversity of the reproductive strategies of these animals influences the choice of places where they feed. The researchers also noted a difference between females and northern males.

Admittedly, females often weigh more than 100 kg. But the males are downright huge reaching 3 to 7 times the size of these. The findings of this study were described in the journal Royal Society Open Science of January.

A different and risky hunting habit

Between 2006 and 2015, researchers attached temperature sensors and radio and satellite transmitters to at least 200 seals. They then calculated the rate of fat accumulated by seals. Using the data collected, they were able to understand their eating habits and the degree of conversion of their efforts into body fat. Moreover, they discovered that the two sexes forage at separate sites.

Indeed, females spent more time foraging in deep ocean waters. As for the males, they confined themselves to coastal areas and fed constantly on prey. Thus, the males reached 6 times heavier than females and ate 4 times more calories than the latter. However, this shallow sideboard has its downside. Compared to females, Kienle and colleagues observed that males are much more exposed to death.

Is it the fault of the large marine predators?

The reasons why males are dying in such large numbers remain obscurebut Kienle suspected the predation. Throughout seal territory in the North Pacific, killer whales and big sharks whites criss-cross the coast.

Compared to deep waters, continental waters are populated by fish, plankton, and other marine animals. These serve as food for hungry sea lions and seals. According to zoologist Andrew Trites, this other relationship is seen by major carnivores feeding on mammals.

“That’s where the dinner bell keeps ringing. »

Andrew Trites


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