Hostname: page-component-797576ffbb-5676f Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-12-03T08:51:53.541Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "corePageComponentGetUserInfoFromSharedSession": true, "coreDisableEcommerce": false, "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

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
El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (, Av. Rancho Polígono 2-A, Ciudad Industrial, CP. 24500, Lerma, Campeche, México
J.C. Pérez-Jiménez*
El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (, Av. Rancho Polígono 2-A, Ciudad Industrial, CP. 24500, Lerma, Campeche, México
I. Méndez-Loeza
El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (, Av. Rancho Polígono 2-A, Ciudad Industrial, CP. 24500, Lerma, Campeche, México
K. Bassos-Hull
Mote Marine Laboratory, The Center for Shark Research, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, FL 34236, USA
M.J. Ajemian
Florida Atlantic University, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, 5600 US 1 North, Fort Pierce, FL 34946, USA
Correspondence should be addressed to: J.C. Pérez-Jiménez El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (, Av. Rancho Polígono 2-A, Ciudad Industrial, CP. 24500, Lerma, Campeche, México email:


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.

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

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



Ajemian, M.J. and Powers, S.P. (2012) Habitat-specific feeding by cownose rays (Rhinoptera bonasus) of the northern Gulf of Mexico. Environmental Biology of Fishes 95, 7997.Google Scholar
Ajemian, M.J., Powers, S.P. and Murdoch, T.J.T. (2012) Estimating the potential impacts of large mesopredators on benthic resources: integrative assessment of spotted eagle ray foraging ecology in Bermuda. PLoS ONE 7, 117.Google Scholar
Alfonso, H. and López, C. (2005) Distribución espacio-temporal de la meiofauna béntica en cuatro playas del Litoral Norte de la Habana. Revista de Biología Tropical 54, 985995.Google Scholar
Bigelow, H.B. and Schroeder, W.C. (1953) Fishes of the Western North Atlantic. Part 2, Sawfishes, guitarfishes, skate and rays. New Haven, CT: Sears Foundation for Marine Research.Google Scholar
Cailliet, G.M. (1977) Several approaches to the feeding ecology of fishes. In Simenstad, C. and Lipovsky, S. (eds) Proceedings of the first Pacific Northwest Technical Workshop, fish food habits studies. Seattle, WA: Washington Sea Grant, pp. 113.Google Scholar
Clarke, K.R. and Warwick, R.M. (2001) Change in marine communities: an approach to statistical analysis and interpretation, 2nd edn. Plymouth: Plymouth Marine Laboratory.Google Scholar
Colwell, R.K. (2013) Statistical estimation of species richness and shared species from samples. Version 9. User's Guide. Scholar
CONAPESCA (2013) Anuario Estadístico de Acuacultura y pesca. Ciudad de México, México: Comisión Nacional de Acuacultura y Pesca (CONAPESCA).Google Scholar
Cortés, E. (1997) A critical review of methods of studying fish feeding based on analysis of stomach contents: application to elasmobranch fishes. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 4, 726738.Google Scholar
Costello, M.J. (1990) Predator feeding strategy and prey importance: a new graphical analysis. Journal of Fish Biology 36, 261263.Google Scholar
Cuevas-Zimbrón, E., Pérez-Jiménez, J.C. and Méndez-Loeza, I. (2011) Spatial and seasonal variation in a target fishery for spotted eagle ray Aetobatus narinari in the southern Gulf of Mexico. Fisheries Science 77, 723730.Google Scholar
Dean, M.N., Wilga, C.D. and Summer, A.P. (2005) Eating without hands or tongue: specialization, elaboration and the evolution of prey processing mechanisms in cartilaginous fishes. Biological Letters 1, 357361.Google Scholar
Eleftheriou, A. and McIntyre, A. (2005) Methods for the study of marine benthos, 3rd edn. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
Ferry, L.A. and Cailliet, G.M. (1996) Sample size and data analysis: are we characterizing and comparing diet properly? In MacKinlay, D. and Shearer, K. (eds) Feeding ecology and nutrition in fish. San Francisco, CA: American Fisheries Society, pp. 7180.Google Scholar
Gío-Argaez, R., Machain-Castillo, M.L. and Gaytan Caballero, A. (2002) Los ostrácodos de la zona económica exclusiva de México Parte I. La Bahía de Campeche. Jaina 13, 111.Google Scholar
González, N.E. (1998) Taxonomía de moluscos (Mollusca). Chetumal, México: Concejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología.Google Scholar
Heithaus, M.R. (2004) Predator–prey interactions. In Carrier, J.C., Musick, J.A. and Heithaus, M.R. (eds) Biology of sharks and their relatives. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, pp. 487521.Google Scholar
Hernández, J.L., Ruiz, J.A., Toral, R.E. and Arenas, V. (2005) Camarones, langostas y cangrejos de la Costa Este de México. Ciudad de México, México: Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y uso de la Biodiversidad.Google Scholar
Hyslop, E.J. (1980) Stomach contents analysis: a review of methods and their application. Journal of Fish Biology 17, 411429.Google Scholar
Iversen, E.S., Jory, D.E. and Bannerot, S.P. (1986) Predation on queen conchs, Strombus gigas, in the Bahamas. Bulletin of Marine Science 39, 6175.Google Scholar
Ivlev, V.S. (1961) Experimental ecology if the feeding of fishes. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
Jiménez-Valverde, A. and Hortal, J. (2003) Las curvas de acumulación de especies y la necesidad de evaluar la calidad de los inventarios biológicos. Revista Ibérica de Aracnología 8, 151161.Google Scholar
Krebs, C.J. (1985) Ecología: Estudio de la distribución y la abundancia, 2nd edn. Ciudad de México, México: Harla.Google Scholar
Kyne, P.M., Ishihara, H., Dudley, S.F.J. and White, W.T. (2006) Aetobatus narinari. The IUCN red list of threatened species 2006. Version 2010.3. Scholar
McEachran, J.D. and Carvalho, M.R. (2002) Batoid fishes. In Carpenter, K.E. (ed) The living marine resources of the Western Central Atlantic. FAO species identification guide for fishery purposes and American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists Special Publication No. 5. Rome: FAO, pp. 578585.Google Scholar
Mikkelsen, P.M. and Bieler, R. (2008) Seashells of southern Florida: living marine mollusks of the Florida Keys and adjacent regions. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Naylor, G.J.P., Caira, J.N., Jensen, K., Rosana, K.A.M., White, W.T. and Last, P.R. (2012) A DNA sequence–based approach to the identification of shark and ray species and its implications for global Elasmobranch diversity and parasitology. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 367, 1262.Google Scholar
Ortega-Puch, B.J. (2008) Caracterización de la pesquería de caracol en Seybaplaya, Campeche. Dissertation, Universidad Autónoma de Campeche.Google Scholar
Papastamatiou, Y.P., Purkis, S.J. and Holland, K.N. (2007) The response of gastric pH and motility to fasting and feeding in free swimming blacktip reef sharks, Carcharhinus melanopterus. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 345, 129140.Google Scholar
Pérez-Jiménez, J.C., Méndez-Loeza, I., Mendoza-Carranza, M. and Cuevas-Zimbrón, E. (2012) Análisis histórico de las pesquerías de elasmobranquios del sureste del Golfo de México. In Sánchez, A., Chiappa-Carrara, X. and Pérez, B. (eds) Recursos Acuáticos Costeros del Sureste: Tendencias actuales en investigación y estado del arte. México, DF: RECORECOS, CONCYTEY, UNACAR, UJAT, ECOSUR, UNAM, pp. 463481.Google Scholar
Pinkas, L., Oliphant, M.S. and Iverson, I.L. (1971) Food habits of albacore, bluefin tuna, and bonito in California waters. California Department of Fish and Game, Fish Bulletin 152.Google Scholar
Prellezo, R., Lazkano, I., Santurtún, M. and Iriondo, A. (2009) A qualitative and quantitative analysis of selection of fishing area by Basque trawlers. Fisheries Research 97, 2431.Google Scholar
Randall, J.E. (1964) Contributions to the biology of the queen conch, Strombus gigas. Bulletin of Marine Science 14, 246295.Google Scholar
Rivera-Arriaga, E., Alpuche-Gual, L., Negrete-Cardoso, M., Nava-Fuentes, C.J., Edgar-Lemus, P. and Arriga-Zepeda, C. (2012) Programa de Manejo Costero Integrado para el Saneamiento de la Bahía de San Francisco de Campeche. Campeche, México: Universidad Autónoma de Campeche.Google Scholar
Schluessel, V., Bennett, M.B. and Collin, S.P. (2010) Diet and reproduction in the white-spotted eagle ray Aetobatus narinari from Queensland, Australia and the Penghu Islands, Taiwan. Marine and Freshwater Research 61, 12781289.Google Scholar
Smith, J.W. and Merriner, J.V. (1985) Food habits and feeding behavior of the cownose ray, Rhinoptera bonasus, in lower Chesapeake Bay. Estuaries 8, 305310.Google Scholar
Thomas, M.L.H. (2003) Marine ecology of Harrington Sound Bermuda. Bermuda: Bermuda Zoological Society.Google Scholar
Tunnell, J.W., Barrera, N.C. and Moretzshn, F. (2014) Texas seashells: a field guide. College Station, TX: A&M University Press.Google Scholar
Varela, J.L., Intriago, K.M., Flores, J.C. and Lucas-Pilozo, C.R. (2017) Feeding habits of juvenile yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) in Ecuadorian waters assessed from stomach content and stable isotope analysis. Fisheries Research 194, 8998.Google Scholar
Wetherbee, B.M. and Cortés, E. (2004) Food consumption and feeding habits. In Carrier, J.C., Musick, J.A. and Heithaus, M.R. (eds) Biology of sharks and their relatives. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, pp. 225246.Google Scholar
White, W.T. and Last, P.R. (2012) A review of taxonomy of chondrichthyan fishes: a modern perspective. Journal of Fish Biology 80, 901917.Google Scholar
White, W.T., Last, P.R., Naylor, G.J.P., Jensen, K. and Caira, J.N. (2010) Clarification of Aetobatus ocellatus (Kuhl, 1823) as a valid species, and a comparison with Aetobatus narinari (Euphrasen, 1790) (Rajiformes: Myliobatidae). In Last, P.R., White, W.T. and Pogonoski, J.J. (eds) Descriptions of new sharks and rays from Borneo. CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research Paper 032. Hobart: CSIRO, pp. 141164.Google Scholar
Williams, A.B. (1984) Shrimps, lobsters, and crabs of the Atlantic coast of the eastern United States, Maine to Florida. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution.Google Scholar