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First record of an Australian fur seal (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus) feeding on a wobbegong shark (Orectolobus ornatus)

Allen, S. and Huveneers, C. (2005) First record of an Australian fur seal (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus) feeding on a wobbegong shark (Orectolobus ornatus). Proceedings of the Linnean Society of NSW, 126 . pp. 95-97.

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The Australian fur seal (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus) is listed as a ‘vulnerable’ species in New South Wales (NSW) under the Threatened Species Conservation Act, recovering from exploitation by commercial sealing activities around southeastern Australia. Recent dietary studies indicate they are generalist predators that feed on a wide variety of both vertebrates (fish and, occasionally, birds) and invertebrates (cephalopods and, occasionally, crustaceans). While a small number of elasmobranchs have been reported from the diets of a variety of fur seal species, no published evidence exists of either fur seals preying on wobbegongs (Orectolobus spp.), or of large wobbegongs as prey items in the diet of any predator. Here we describe an account of an Australian fur seal feeding on a large ornate wobbegong (Orectolobus ornatus). Wobbegongs are also listed as ‘vulnerable’ in NSW by the IUCN, with commercial fishing catch having dropped over 50% from 1990-2000. Knowledge of relationships between high trophic level species is important for assessing interactions between marine mammals and fisheries and also presents interesting challenges for the conservation of commercially targeted species.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Linnean Society of New South Wales
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