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Dead or alive, night or day: how do albatrosses catch squid?

  • J.P. Croxall (a1) and P.A. Prince (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 May 2004

For many albatross species squid are important prey. Whether albatrosses depend on scavenging (e.g. of vomit from cetaceans, post-spawning die-offs or fishery waste) or on live-capture of squid (e.g. via diel vertical migrations in association with aggregations of squid prey) is controversial. This review of the nature of interactions between squid and the four species of albatross breeding at South Georgia uses data on the foraging range, methods and timing of feeding of the albatrosses in relation to the size, distribution, buoyancy characteristics (floaters or sinkers), bioluminescence and prey of the squid and access to fishery waste. We conclude that most evidence for scavenging needs critical re-evaluation; nevertheless, whereas wandering albatrosses and possibly light-mantled sooty albatrosses probably depend significantly on scavenged squid, black-browed and especially grey-headed albatrosses are unlikely to do so.

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Antarctic Science
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