a1 Central Institute for Marine Research (ICRAM), STS Palermo, via Emerico Amari 124, 90139 Palermo, Italy
a2 ICRAM, via di Casalotti 300, 00166 Roma, Italy
a3 ICRAM, STS Palermo Laboratorio di Milazzo, via dei Mille 44, 98057, Milazzo (Me), Italy
a4 Dipartimento di Biologia Animale ed Ecologia Marina, Università di Messina, Salita Sperone, S. Agata, 98166 Messina, Italy
The stomach contents of 69 Mediterranean spearfish Tetrapturus belone collected in the Strait of Messina, central Mediterranean Sea were examined. Of the total specimens, caught by harpoon, only three stomachs were empty. Their diet consisted mainly of pelagic fish and cephalopods. The most important piscine prey belonged to the families of Belonidae, Clupeidae and Scomberesocidae. Cephalopods were mainly represented by Tremoctopus violaceus in terms of per cent weight and by Illex coindetii in terms of per cent frequency of occurrence. Tetrapturus belone is an active predator on epipelagic fast-moving prey and school-forming species. Its ecological role is similar to that of other large pelagic species which share the same environment.
(Received September 21 2006)
(Accepted November 02 2007)