Vilata, J., Oliva, D., and Sep lveda, M. 2010. The predation of farmed salmon by South American sea lions (Otaria flavescens) in southern Chile. - ICES Journal of Marine Science, 67: 475-482.The South American sea lion Otaria flavescens is abundant off southern Chile. Because Chilean salmon farming has experienced an explosive growth in the past two decades, interactions between O. flavescens and this industry have increased. Fieldwork, including in situ behavioural observations, was carried out at three salmon farms off southern Chile from May to July 2008. The aim was to analyse possible patterns in the interactions and to evaluate whether they were influenced by the endogenous circa-rhythms of the species, prey size, tidal flux, and the use of an acoustic harassment device (AHD). The results showed that the attacks by O. flavescens followed seasonal patterns, with salmon predated more in autumn and winter, and daily patterns, with more interactions at night. In addition, attacks were more frequent on larger salmon, suggesting the existence of a prey-size preference. More sea lions were sighted at the ebb and flow tide peaks, when currents are stronger, suggesting that currents linked to tidal flux might facilitate the access of the sea lions to the farmed salmon. Although the use of AHDs appeared positive at one site, there is a strong suspicion that their efficacy may be site-specific.
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