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Fishing in Captive Harbour Seals (Phoca Vitulina Concolor): a Possible Role for Vibrissae

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image of Netherlands Journal of Zoology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

The behaviour of four harbour seals was documented while they were feeding on live trout. Two of these seals were captured as yearlings and two were acquired as newly weaned pups. After a reliable description of their feeding behaviour was obtained they were observed fishing with and without the aid of their vibrissae, in murky and in clear water. The seals captured as pups took longer to locate fish when the water was murky, but the removal of their vibrissae had no effect on any of the behaviours measured. The seals captured as yearlings were not affected by reduced visibility, but the removal of their vibrissae temporarily impaired their ability to capture fish.

Affiliations: 1: (Department of Psychology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada


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