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Historical ecology: a critique of François Péron’s account of Southern Elephant Seals, Mirounga leonina (Linn.),

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Ling, JK (2015) Historical ecology: a critique of François Péron’s account of Southern Elephant Seals, Mirounga leonina (Linn.),. Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania, 149. pp. 13-21. ISSN 0080-4703

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Abstract

François Péron’s quite detailed observations of Southern Elephant Seals, Mirounga leonina (Linn.), at King Island, Tasmania, in December 1802, are considered in the light of current knowledge of this species. Acute observations of the elephant seal and its behaviour, as well as remarks about its life history, which appears to have differed slightly from that observed recently at sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island, the nearest current breeding site, were recorded. There is a suggestion that the breeding season at King Island may have been earlier than where Southern Elephant Seals now occur in the sub-Antarctic, possibly due to King Island being closer to the equator. Péron noted that Aborigines at Port Jackson called them Mirourong, from which their current generic name was derived, and they still frequent this coast. He does not mention seeing small immature elephant seals at King Island in December when this age class hauls out to moult on Macquarie
Island. The presence then of (probably exaggeratedly) large males again suggests that the annual cycle at King Island may have been in advance of that observed at Macquarie Island today. Péron’s growth rates were far in excess of those now known for the species anywhere: how he arrived at them he does not record; possibly this and other information was related to him by the sealers.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Historical ecology, François Péron, Southern Elephant Seals, Mirounga leonina, King Island
Journal or Publication Title: Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
Page Range: pp. 13-21
ISSN: 0080-4703
Copyright Information:

Copyright The Royal Society of Tasmania

Collections: Royal Society Collection > Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2017 02:00
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2017 02:00
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