Calcium and phosphorus balance in juvenile harp seals (Phoca groenlandica)

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Calcium and phosphorus balances were determined for juvenile harp seals fed two diets of Atlantic herring (diet 1: 0.8% Ca, 1.3% P; diet 2: 1.3% Ca, 1.6% P). The effects of three levels of intake and of feeding frequency were investigated. Calcium excretion (percent of intake) occurred mainly through the faeces (90% versus 2% in the urine). Phosphorus was excreted in major amounts through both faeces (39%) and urine (50%). The apparent absorption coefficients for dietary calcium and phosphorus were 10 and 61%, respectively, Faecal and urinary excretion and retention of calcium and phosphorus increased directly with their respective intakes. Differences in diet and feeding frequency had no significant effect on calcium or phosphorus balance. The data indicate that the calcium and phosphorus content of the diets was adequate but that the retention of these minerals was limited by all three levels of energy intake, despite the fact that the seals increased in standard length between 1 and 2 years of age at a rate similar to that reported for wild harp seals.


Chemistry and Geology

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Canadian Journal of Zoology