Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom

Research Article

Stomach contents of cetaceans stranded in the Canary Islands 1996–2006

R. Fernándeza1 c1, M.B. Santosa2, M. Carrilloa3, M. Tejedora3 p1 and G.J. Piercea1a2

a1 School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Tillydrone Avenue, Aberdeen, AB24 2TZ, Aberdeen, Scotland

a2 Instituto Español de Oceanografía, Cabo Estay, Canido, PO Box 1552, 36200, Vigo, Spain

a3 Canarias Conservación, Cetacean Research & Educational Society, C/Maya 8, 4°D, 38204, La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain

Abstract

Stomach contents were analysed from 23 cetaceans, including individuals of 12 species from the families Delphinidae, Physeteridae, Kogiidae and Ziphiidae, stranded between 1996 and 2006 in the Canary Islands. Cephalopod mandibles (beaks) were found in 21 stomachs and fish remains (otoliths and jaw bones) appeared in 4 stomachs. Two stomachs contained only eye lenses. Cephalopods eaten by dolphins were mainly from the families Ommastrephidae, Sepiidae and Enoploteuthidae, whereas whales had mainly taken specimens of the oceanic squid families Histiotheutidae and Cranchiidae. Fish remains included a pelagic species (i.e. garfish, Belone belone) in dolphin stomachs and bathypelagic (i.e. black scabbard fish, Aphanopus carbo, lantern fish, Lampadena luminosa) and demersal species (Lophius sp.) in a pygmy sperm whale (Kogia breviceps) stomach. Most of the prey species identified are not of commercial interest but one of the sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) contained a fishing hook among the stomach contents. Five (22%) of the cetaceans examined had also plastic debris in their stomachs, with big plastic items being taken by deep diving teuthophagous whales.

(Received August 05 2008)

(Accepted December 24 2008)

(Online publication April 20 2009)

Correspondence:

c1 Correspondence should be addressed to: R. Fernández, School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Tillydrone Avenue, Aberdeen, AB24 2TZ, Aberdeen, Scotland email: r.fernandez@abdn.ac.uk

p1 Present address: Antiguo Varadero, local 8B, Urbanización Puerto Calero, Yaiza, 35571, Lanzarote, Spain