oa African Zoology - The southern elephant seal Mirounga leonina at Gough Island

Volume 15, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1562-7020
  • E-ISSN: 2224-073X



Southern elephant seals Mirounga leonina selected mainly the gently sloping, smooth-surfaced beaches and vegetated areas of the sheltered north-east coast. Mainly adults hauled out during the spring breeding season, with all pups being born by late October and the majority of the pups dispersing from their birthsites by December. Subadults were most abundant at the onset of the summer moult haul-out, with bulls and some subadult males being most abundant towards the end of the moulting season. Moulting seals preferred vegetated areas to exposed beaches. During the 1977/78 summer, total population was estimated at 163 suggesting a slight decrease since 1955/56. Harems were small and few in number, and pregnant cows showed fidelity to previous pupping sites. Spatial and temporal separation of the breeding populations of elephant and fur seals (Arctocephalus tropicalis) precluded competition for haul-out sites.

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