First documentation of leopard seal predation of South Georgia pintail duck

Ewan W. J. Edwards, Jaume Forcada, Glenn T. Crossin

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Leopard seals are regular winter visitors to Bird Island, South Georgia, where they mostly prey on fur seals and penguins, and to a lesser extent on Antarctic krill and fish. Leopard seals can exploit many different species, but there are no records of predation on flying shorebirds in the wild. On 4 October 2008, an individually identified juvenile leopard seal female was observed killing and eating a South Georgia Pintail duck. It also preyed on Antarctic fur seals and gentoo and macaroni penguins during its 2-month temporary residency around the island. The varied diet of this seal exemplifies the generalist prey utilization typical of its species. Long-term diet studies at Bird Island and the published record suggest that predation on ducks is a rather exceptional finding; individual ducks are more likely to escape leopard seal attacks than penguins and provide a far less substantial ration. This note documents the first observation of this species of duck in the diet of leopard seals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-405
Number of pages3
JournalPolar Biology
Issue number3
Early online date15 Aug 2009
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


  • leopard seal
  • pintail duck
  • predation
  • South Georgia
  • hydrurga-leptonyx
  • winter dispersal
  • Antarctica
  • abundance
  • island


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