Feeding kinematics, suction and hydraulic jetting capabilities in bearded seals (Erignathus barbatus). Academic Article uri icon


  • Feeding kinematics, suction and hydraulic jetting capabilities of bearded seals (Erignathus barbatus) were characterized during controlled feeding trials. Feeding trials were conducted both on land and in water, and allowed a choice between suction and biting, but food was also presented that could be ingested by suction alone. Four feeding phases, preparatory, jaw opening, hyoid depression and jaw closing were observed; the mean feeding cycle duration was 0.54+/-0.22 s, regardless of feeding mode (P>0.05). Subjects feeding on land used biting and suction 89.3% and 10.7% of the time, respectively. Subjects feeding in water used suction and hydraulic jetting 96.3% and 3.7% of the time, respectively. No biting behavior was observed underwater. Suction feeding was characterized by a small gape (2.7+/-0.85 cm), small gape angle (24.4+/-8.13 degrees ), pursing of the rostral lips to form a circular aperture, and pursing of the lateral lips to occlude lateral gape. Biting was characterized by large gape (7.3+/-2.2 cm), large gape angle (41.7+/-15.2 degrees ), and lip curling to expose the teeth. An excavation behavior in which suction and hydraulic jetting were alternated was used to extract food from recessed wells. The maximum subambient and suprambient pressures recorded were 91.2 and 53.4 kPa, respectively. The inclusion of suction data for phocids broadens the principle that suction feeding kinematics is conserved among aquatic vertebrates. Furthermore, bearded seals support predictions that mouth size, fluid flow speed, and elusiveness of prey consumed are among a suite of traits that determine the specific nature of suction feeding among species.

published proceedings

  • J Exp Biol

altmetric score

  • 1.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Marshall, C. D., Kovacs, K. M., & Lydersen, C.

citation count

  • 66

complete list of authors

  • Marshall, Christopher D||Kovacs, Kit M||Lydersen, Christian

publication date

  • March 2008