The ability of predators to adopt hunting tactics that minimise escape reactions from prey is crucial for efficient foraging, and depends on detection capabilities and locomotor performance of both predators and prey. Here, we investigated the efficiency of a small pinniped, the Antarctic fur seal (Arctocephalus gazella) at exploiting their small prey by describing for the first time their fine-scale predator–prey interactions. We compared these with those from another diving predator, the southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina) that forage on the same prey type. We used data recorded by a newly developed sonar tag that combines active acoustics with ultrahigh-resolution movement sensors to study simultaneously the fine-scale behaviour of both Antarctic fur seals and prey during predator–prey interactions in more than 1200 prey capture events for eight female Antarctic fur seals. Our results showed that Antarctic fur seals and their prey detect each other at the same time, i.e. 1–2 s before the strike, forcing Antarctic fur seals to display reactive fast-moving chases to capture their prey. In contrast, southern elephant seals detect their prey up to 10 s before the strike, allowing them to approach their prey stealthily without triggering an escape reaction. The active hunting tactics used by Antarctic fur seals is probably very energy consuming compared with the stalking tactics used by southern elephant seals but might be compensated for by the consumption of faster-moving larger prey. We suggest that differences in manoeuvrability, locomotor performance and detection capacities and in pace of life between Antarctic fur seals and southern elephant seals might explain these differences in hunting styles.

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