Diet and foraging behavior of sea otters in southeast Alaska

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Kvitek, R. G., Bowlby, C. E., & Staedler, M. (1993). Diet and foraging behavior of sea otters in southeast Alaska. Marine Mammal Science, 9(2), 168-181.
TitleDiet and foraging behavior of sea otters in southeast Alaska
AuthorsR. Kvitek, C. Bowlby, M. Staedler
AbstractInfaunal clams were the primary prey utilized by Enhydra lutris throughout the region. Foraging dive times associated with clam and sea urchin prey were significantly longer than those for more easily captured prey (crabs and mussels). Dive times and surface intervals were also generally correlated with water depth or apparent difficulty in obtaining buried prey. Male otters, which fed more extensively on clams than females, made significantly longer foraging dives. Foraging success remained high, even at sites where prey numbers were very low. The very deeply burrowing geoduck clam Panope abrupta, while common at several otter feeding sites, was rarely captured by otters. Butter clams Saxidomus giganteus account for the majority of the sea otter diet in SE Alaska. Sea urchins may represent relatively short-term prey in comparison to infaunal bivalves in regions where both prey types co-exist. The importance of butter clams in the diet and the tendency for this bivalve to retain chronically high levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning toxins increases the probability that toxic phytoplankton blooms influence sea otter distribution in this region. -from Authors
JournalMarine Mammal Science
Start page168
End page181
Subjectsbutter clam, clam, foraging behaviour, geoduck clam, sea otter, USA, Alaska, Enhydra lutris, Panope abrupta, Saxidomus giganteus
NoteCited By (since 1996):17, Marine Mammals, Birds & Turtles