The diet of harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) at the southern limit of its European distribution (Normandy, France)

  • Jérôme Spitz Littoral, Environnement et Sociétés (LIENSs), UMR 6250, CNRS/Université de La Rochelle, 2 rue Olympe de Gouges, F-17071 La Rochelle cedex, France and Parc zoologique de La Flèche, Le Tertre Rouge, F-72400 La Flèche, France
  • Laetitia Mariotti Centre de Recherche sur les Mammifères Marins, Fédération de Recherche en Environnement pour le Développement Durable (FR 3097 CNRS ), Université de La Rochelle, F-17071 La Rochelle, France
  • Vincent Ridoux Littoral, Environnement et Sociétés (LIENSs), UMR 6250, CNRS/Université de La Rochelle, 2 rue Olympe de Gouges, F-17071 La Rochelle cedex, France and Centre de Recherche sur les Mammifères Marins, Fédération de Recherche en Environnement pour le Dév
  • Emmanuel Caillot Réserve Naturelle Nationale du Domaine de Beauguillot, F-50480 Sainte-Marie du Mont, France
  • Jean François Elder Réserve Naturelle Nationale du Domaine de Beauguillot, F-50480 Sainte-Marie du Mont, France
Keywords: harbour seals, diet

Abstract

Changes in habitat availability or resources are likely to have the biggest impact on survival or abundance of individuals found at the extremity of the population’s range. In the case of such marginal populations, the first step in designing appropriate conservation plans is the identification of potential risks to the viability of the population, or subpopulation. For example, the interaction between coastal seals and fisheries is often considered as a major conservation issue, due to the potential co-exploitation of the same resources by both fishermen and seals. The diet of harbour seals was investigated by scat analysis at the southern extremity of their European range, in Baie des Veys (Normandy, France). A total of 121 scats, analysed following standard methodologies, revealed a diet largely dominated by mullets, Mugilidae (49% by mass), plaice Pleuronectes platess (29% by mass) and garfish, Belone belone (19% by mass). The diet of harbour seals at the edge of their European distribution differs from all previous studies conducted elsewhere, in terms of species composition, but shows a similar balance between fat and lean fish. Overall dietcomposition suggests a low potential for interaction with fisheries as commercial fishery target species are almost absent.
Published
2010-09-01
How to Cite
SpitzJ., MariottiL., RidouxV., CaillotE., & ElderJ. F. (2010). The diet of harbour seals (<i>Phoca vitulina</i&gt;) at the southern limit of its European distribution (Normandy, France). NAMMCO Scientific Publications, 8, 313-328. https://doi.org/10.7557/3.2696