Using seabirds to map the distribution of elusive pelagic cephalopod species
The distribution of oceanic cephalopod species is not fully understood but seabirds, which feed on cephalopods and cover vast oceanic areas, might work as samplers and mappers of the occurrence of this elusive group. We tracked 17 wandering albatrosses Diomedea exulans at Bird Island, South Georgia (54° S, 38° W) over the austral winter (breeding period) with GPS-loggers, activity recorders and stomach temperature probes. At logger retrieval, diet composition was accessed via stomach flushings of the tagged individuals. Wandering albatrosses captured circumpolar and rarer oceanic squid in all water masses of the Southern Ocean (i.e. Antarctic, sub-Antarctic and subtropical waters), complementing much of the knowledge about the cephalopod distribution in the Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean. Some cephalopod species showed a distribution range wider than expected, with oceanic fronts not functioning as ecological barriers as previously thought. This suggests they might be capable of overcoming these frontal regimes and even take advantage of their dynamics as migration pathways.
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