Diets of hooded seals in coastal and drift ice waters along the east coast of Greenland
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To provide data on the feeding habits of hooded (Cystophora cristata) seals in the Greenland Sea, seals were collected for scientific purposes on expeditions with R/V”Jan Mayen”, conducted in the pack ice belt east of Greenland in September/October 1999 and 2002 (autumn), July/August in 2000 (summer), and February/March in 2001 and 2002 (winter). Results from analyses of stomach and intestinal contents from captured seals revealed that the diet was comprised of relatively few prey taxa. The squid Gonatus fabricii and polar cod Boreogadus saida were particularly important, whereas capelin Mallotus villosus, and sand eels Ammodytes spp contributed more occasionally. G. fabricii was the most important food item in autumn and winter, whereas the observed summer diet was more characterized by polar cod, however with important contribution also from G. fabricii and sand eels. The latter was observed on the hooded seal menu only during the summer period, while polar cod, which contributed importantly also during the autumn survey, was almost absent from the winter samples. During the latter survey, also capelin contributed to the hooded seal diet. Samples obtained in more coastal waters indicated a more varied and fish based (polar cod, redfish Sebasetes sp., Greenland halibut Reinhardtius hippoglossoides) hooded seal diet.
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