Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom

Research Article

Feeding habits of the velvet belly lanternshark Etmopterus spinax (Chondrichthyes: Etmopteridae) off the Algarve, southern Portugal

João  Neiva a1c1, Rui  Coelho a1 and Karim  Erzini a1
a1 Universidade do Algarve, CCMAR/FCMA, Campus de Gambelas, 8000-117 Faro, Portugal

Article author query
neiva j   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
coelho r   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
erzini k   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Etmopterus spinax is one of the most abundant predators of the upper continental slope off the Algarve (southern Portugal), where it is captured in large quantities in deep-water fisheries. The feeding habits of E. spinax off the Algarve were investigated through the analysis of stomach contents of 376 individuals. Prey composition was described and maturity, sex and size related variations in the diet analysed. The overall diet of E. spinax suggested a fairly generalized benthopelagic foraging behaviour primarily tuned to pelagic macroplankton/microneckton, teleost fish and cephalopods. Sex and maturity related differences in the diet were not significant. Two main ontogenic diet shifts were observed at about 17 and 28 cm total length. Small and medium sized immature sharks had a diet dominated by eurybathic crustaceans, chiefly Meganyctiphanes norvegica and Pasiphaea sivado. Larger individuals consumed more teleosts and cephalopods, in part associated with scavenging as a new feeding strategy. With increasing shark size the diet diversified both in terms of resources exploited and prey size.

(Published Online June 15 2006)
(Received December 17 2005)
(Accepted May 3 2006)

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