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Comparison between the feeding habits of spotted eagle ray (Aetobatus narinari) and their potential prey in the southern Gulf of Mexico

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 July 2018

F. Serrano-Flores
Affiliation:
El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (www.ecosur.mx), Av. Rancho Polígono 2-A, Ciudad Industrial, CP. 24500, Lerma, Campeche, México
J.C. Pérez-Jiménez
Affiliation:
El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (www.ecosur.mx), Av. Rancho Polígono 2-A, Ciudad Industrial, CP. 24500, Lerma, Campeche, México
I. Méndez-Loeza
Affiliation:
El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (www.ecosur.mx), Av. Rancho Polígono 2-A, Ciudad Industrial, CP. 24500, Lerma, Campeche, México
K. Bassos-Hull
Affiliation:
Mote Marine Laboratory, The Center for Shark Research, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, FL 34236, USA
M.J. Ajemian
Affiliation:
Florida Atlantic University, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, 5600 US 1 North, Fort Pierce, FL 34946, USA
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

In the southern Gulf of Mexico, the spotted eagle ray (Aetobatus narinari) is the second most frequently caught batoid in small-scale fisheries off Campeche. Ecological aspects of this ray are unknown in this region, hampering the understanding of the relationship between its distribution and prey availability in the fishing area. In order to study the feeding habits of this batoid and characterize its potential prey in the study area, stomachs and intestines of 154 specimens (68 females and 86 males) were analysed. The results indicated that A. narinari near Campeche is a specialist and selective predator that feeds mainly on gastropods (92.7% IRI), with no significant differences in the diet found between sexes, size groups, or between stomach and intestine contents. In addition, the results indicated that the most important prey species in the diet were among the most common benthic species in three of the four sampling transects positioned in or adjacent to fishing areas for rays. These most important prey species were Strombus pugilis (53.33% IRI) and Americoliva reticularis (25.6% IRI). Other prey species included Lobatus costatus (5.6% IRI) and Petrochirus diogenes (3.6% IRI). This study suggests that this widely distributed ray species feeds in Campeche's coastal waters and that the study of its potential prey increases the understanding of ecological aspects of the species, which emphasizes the added importance of monitoring fishery impacts on prey species (e.g. the conch fishery off Campeche) to help support integrated assessment and management of fisheries.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 2018 

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Comparison between the feeding habits of spotted eagle ray (Aetobatus narinari) and their potential prey in the southern Gulf of Mexico
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