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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

  • F. Serrano-Flores (a1), J.C. Pérez-Jiménez (a1), I. Méndez-Loeza (a1), K. Bassos-Hull (a2) and M.J. Ajemian (a3)...

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.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: J.C. Pérez-Jiménez El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (www.ecosur.mx), Av. Rancho Polígono 2-A, Ciudad Industrial, CP. 24500, Lerma, Campeche, México email: jcperez@ecosur.mx

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