Inter-annual consistency in the fluctuating energy requirements of captive harp seals Phoca groenlan
April Hedd, Rosemary Gales, and Deane Renouf
Ocean Sciences Centre, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, NF, A1C 5S7
Polar Biology. 18: 311 - 318. 1997
Abstract: To examine seasonal and inter-annual shifts in the energy requirements of captive harp seals (Phoca groenlandica), metabolic rate and body temperature were repeatedly measured over the annual cycle. Seasonal shifts were evident in both parameters, with spring and summer (April to September) peaks decreasing throughout fall and winter (October to March). Seasonal changes in oxygen consumption concur with earlier published reports and data presented here validate these trends inter-annually. The standard metabolic rates (SMRs) of all seals were lower than predicted during fall/winter, but were indistinguishable from expected rates during spring/summer. Although individual variation in metabolic rate was largely independent of changes in both total body mass and predicted total body fat over the year, such variation was more closely related to changes in predicted lean body mass. Both deep rectal and core body temperatures co-varied with metabolic rate, perhaps indicating a metabolic defense of fat for thermoregulation. The implications of these shifting basal requirements are considered in the light of calculating the impact of the harp seal herd on fisheries resources in the Northwest Atlantic.