Intraguild predation and partial consumption of blue sharks Prionace glauca by Cape fur seals Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus

  • C Fallows
  • H P Benoît
  • N Hammerschlag
Keywords: belly-biting, pinnipeds, trophic interactions


The top-down effects of predators on ecosystem structure and dynamics have been studied increasingly. However, the nature and consequence of trophic interactions between upper-trophic-level predators have received considerably less attention. This is especially the case in marine systems due to the inherent challenges of studying highly mobile marine species. Here we describe the first documentation of asymmetrical intraguild predation by a pinniped predator on a mid-sized predatory shark. The report is based on direct observations in South African waters, in which free-swimming blue sharks Prionace glauca were captured and partially consumed by Cape fur seals Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus. These observations are important not just for understanding the interactions between these two species but more broadly for their implications in understanding the trophic ecology of pinnipeds, many populations of which have increased while numerous shark populations have declined.

Keywords: belly-biting, pinnipeds, trophic interactions


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1814-2338
print ISSN: 1814-232X