University of St Andrews
Sea Mammal Research Unit
SMRU > Research > Foraging Ecology

Foraging Ecology

Where do marine mammals go to feed? At what depths and how often?  How do they balance the needs of feeding with the needs of breathing, hauling out on land or ice, moulting, breeding, mating and avoiding predators?  Does observed foraging behaviour tally with the predictions of models?  And ultimately, how does foraging success relate to reproductive success?

The habitat preference page deals with the problem of modelling preference for different foraging environments.  The feeding and diet  page deal with the fine scale process of prey choice and capture.


Foraging at sea is mostly determined by telemetry systems.  These can provide both location and dive and haulout behaviour, as well as information about the seas in which they forage


Mike Fedak has palyed a larg part in the Tagging of Pacific Predators programme.

Bernie McConnell & Phil Hammond work of programmes to investigate the offshore foraging ecology of  grey and harbour seals.  This is funded by  funded by the UK Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) as part f their offshore Strategic Environmental Assessment programme.

Ian Boyd  is undertaking research on the stable isotopes within the annual growth rings in teeth to examine the way in which long-term environmental variability, include the southern Oscillation, El NiƱo and the North Atlantic Oscillation affect the diest and life histories of pinnipeds.



page coordinator: bm8