Scavenging by megabenthos and demersal fish on the South Georgia slope
The scavenging megafauna of the South Georgia and Shag Rocks slope in the south-west Atlantic (625–1519 m) were investigated using autonomous baited camera systems. Two surveys were conducted: the first in 1997 (13 deployments) used a conventional 35 mm stills camera with a 200 J flash, whilst the second in 2000 (15 deployments) used low-light digital video cameras. The scavenging community responded rapidly to the arrival of bait on the sea floor and was dominated by stone crabs (Lithodidae) and toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides). Stone crabs took up residence around the bait until it was consumed, with a maximum number of 108 in the field of view after four hours. The most frequently observed crab species was Paralomis formosa. Paralomis spinosissima, Neolithodes diomedea and Lithodes sp., were also observed. Toothfish were the most frequently observed scavenging fish and were seen during all but one deployment, typically making brief visits (1–2 min) to the bait, but appeared startled by the flash in the 1997 survey. Labriform swimming (sculling with the pectoral fins) was the principal form of locomotion in toothfish (0.22 body lengths (BL) sec−1), but they were capable of more rapid sub-carangiform (using caudal trunk and fin) motion (3 BL sec−1) when startled. Other scavenging fish observed included the blue-hake Antimora rostrata, grenadiers (Macrourus spp.), skates, liparids and zoarcids.(Received August 3 2001)
(Accepted October 9 2001)
Key Words: baited cameras; Dissostichus eleginoides; crabs; Paralomis; toothfish; south-west Atlantic.
c1 Corresponding author: [email protected]
p1 Department of Biology, Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong