VOLPEDO Alejandra Vanina
Diet of the South American sea lion (Otaria flavescens) during the summer season at Río Negro, Patagonia, Argentina
RAIMUNDO LUCAS. BUSTOS; GUSTAVO ADOLFO. DANERI; ALEJANDRA VANINA. VOLPEDO; ANA HARRINGTON; ESPERANZA AMALIA. VARELA
Año: 2014 vol. 20 p. 235 - 243
The population of South American sea lions, Otaria flavescens, from northern Patagonia was under intensive commercial harvesting pressure between 1930 and 1950 and is nowadays increasing at a rate of nearly 6% per year. Food availability in the oceans is one of the most important factors influencing the survival and dynamic of marine mammal populations. The objective of the present study was to determine the summer diet of O. flavescens by faecal analysis in order to assess its trophic behavior, determine whether there are interannual differences in diet composition, and evaluate the potential interaction between fisheries operating in the study area and the species. Present results show that O. flavescens preys mainly on fish species, with Raneya brasiliensis being the most frequent (%FO = 65.7) and abundant (%N = 47.9) fish prey. Cephalopods were the second most important prey item in terms of frequency of occurrence (%FO = 42.6%), with the highest index of relative importance corresponding to the octopod Octopus tehuelches. Since these prey taxa are not targeted by the commercial fishing fleet that operates in the study area, the overlap in the use of resources by O. flavescens and fisheries may not be substantial. Given that the biomass of the prey species mentioned above is not directly affected by fishery activities during summer a greater amount of food may be available for sea lions, with this factor possibly contributing to the population recovery in the area.