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Födosammansättning hos gråsäl (Halichoerus grypus) samt test av flotte för insamling av sälfekalier.
University of Kalmar, School of Pure and Applied Natural Sciences.
2008 (Swedish)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Magister), 20 points / 30 hpStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

During the 1960´s and 1970´s the number of grey seals in the Baltic Sea was decreasing rapidly, mostly due to hunting and toxic substances like DDT and PCB. When hunting became less intense and toxic substances decreased in the environment the grey seal population started to increase. Today grey seals are found common in the Baltic Sea and have started to become a big treat and a problem to the fishing industry. The grey seal destroys and enters fishing traps and consumes large quantities of the fish that have been caught.

The knowledge of the grey seal, like abundance and food preferences, is today limited. It is also important to define the position of the grey seal in the ecosystem in the Baltic Sea and to be able to predict changes that could occur if the population would rapidly decrease or increase. This project was therefore started in an attempt to increase the knowledge about the grey seals food preferences. The study was made in tree separate parts. Part one contained analyses of prey remains from stomachs and digestive tract from fourteen individuals put down in two geographically separate areas. The collected material from the seal digestive tract was cleaned and otoliths (hearing stones from fish), scales and back vertebra from fish eaten by the grey seal were sorted out. With the help of hard parts collected from the intestines the food preferences of the seals could be estimated. Eight different species of prey was found. The species were herring (Clupea harengus membras), sprat (Sprattus sprattus), common whitefish (Coregonus spp), perch (Perca fluviatilis), salmon (Salmo salar), trout (Salmo trutta) and roach (Rutilus rutilus). In two of the digestive tracts several individuals of the isopod Saduria entomon were found. No earlier studies describe the isopod as a food source for the grey seals in the Baltic Sea. The findings are therefore unique information. The results showed that during summer the main part of the grey seal diet in the gulf of Sundsvall and in the surrounding coastal area of Hårte was herring and sprat. No significant difference in food preferences was shown between the investigated seals from the gulf of Sundsvall and seals from the surrounding coastal area of Hårte.

The second part was made to investigate if it was possible to build a floating platform that would work as a resting place for the grey seal. The surface of the platform was covered by a layer that keeps the seal scats on the platform so that it could be collected. Otoliths from herring and common whitefish were found on the floating platform. Because the platform could not be under surveillance during the whole study some uncertainties about whether the otoliths found came from grey seal or from resting cormorants or other fish eating birds. However, the otolit size is linearly related to the fish size and this relationship can be used to track the predator. Otoliths from herring taken by grey seals and otoliths found on the platform were significantly bigger than the otoliths originating from the prey of cormorants. The results indicated that the common whitefish size was too big for a full grown cormorant bird to consume. The common whitefish size showed that it probably not had been cormorants that had deposited the otoliths on the platform. The platform method was concluded promising but it needs to be modified in order to work more effective in the future.

In the third part scats were collected from the area of Österåsen to increase the amount of information about the grey seals food preferences.

The knowledge of the grey seals diet in the Baltic Sea is today limited and few similar study’s have earlier been made. The collected scats and otoliths in this project are therefore unique.

2008:Bi 2

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008.
Series
Keywords [en]
grey seal, food preferences, ecosystem, Baltic Sea, otoliths, floating platform, scats, cormorants
National Category
Biological Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hik:diva-697OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hik-697DiVA, id: diva2:24343
Presentation
(English)
Uppsok
bio-/geovetenskap
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2008-10-14 Created: 2008-10-14 Last updated: 2010-03-10Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
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Output format
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