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Haul-out behaviour of two Ross seals off eastern Antarctica


Accurate assessment of the abundance of pinnipeds from visual surveys requires estimation of both the available (hauled-out) and unavailable (in-water) components of the population (Eberhardt et al. 1979). Continental estimates of the abundance of the four Antarctic seals are based on limited information on haul-out behaviour. In developing continental estimates, Erickson & Hanson (1990) corrected visual surveys of the hauled-out component of the species' populations using data from observational studies of haulout behaviour by Erickson et al. (1989). Erickson & Hanson (1990) point out that, because the observational studies did not account for an unknown fraction of seals that remained in the water during the peak haul-out period, their abundance estimates are minimum values. Further, Erickson & Hanson (1990) corrected the visual surveys for all four species using haul-out data for the crabeater seal only, as observational data for the other species were not available. This assumes that haul-out patterns are constant across species, which is largely untested. Consequently, there is potential for bias, in both a relative and absolute sense, in the estimated abundance of Antarctic seals.

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Antarctic Science
  • ISSN: 0954-1020
  • EISSN: 1365-2079
  • URL: /core/journals/antarctic-science
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