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Food And Feeding Habits Of Raja Species (Batoidei) In Carmarthen Bay, Bristol Channel

  • T. O. Ajayi (a1)


The food and feeding habits of rays (genus Raja) have received more attention than other aspects of their biology. Being nocturnal feeders (Bigelow & Schroeder, 1953), they have been thought to locate food by smell rather than by sight (Steven, 1930, 1947). More recently, the ability of the electric receptors to detect even weak action potentials has been linked with food foraging (Kalmijn, 1966). Wilson (1953) observed that the behaviour of Raja while apprehending prey was similar to that of Torpedo spp. The functional advantages of a ventral mouth as an adaptation to bottom feeding have been stressed by Alexander (1970).

Day (1880–1884) recorded that rays ate molluscs, crustaceans and fish. That the young of Raja clavata, R. montagui (as R. maculata), R. naevus and R. brachyura feed on crustaceans was observed by Clark (1922). Steven (1930, 1932, 1947) confirmed this in a wider age sample of the same species, adding that juveniles which ate amphipods and crangonids later changed to Upogebia, Portunus and Corystes cassivelaunus, whereas the adults were highly piscivorous and sometimes cannibalistic. Both Clark and Steven obtained their fish close to Plymouth. Lazzareto (1964) and du Buit (1969), largely corroborating the above, included polychaetes in the list of food items but specified no differentiation according to size.

Holden & Tucker (1974), recording only presence or absence of food items, studied R. clavata, R. brachyura, R. montagui and R. naevus from a much wider area.

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Alexander, R. Mcn., 1970. Functional Design in Fishes. 160 pp. London: Hutchinson University Library.
Bigelow, H. B. & Schroeder, W. C., 1953. Fishes of the Western North Atlantic. Vol. 2. Saw Fishes, Guitar Fishes, Skates, Rays and Chimaeroids. New Haven: Sears Foundation for Marine Research.
Borutsky, E. V. & Zheltenkova, M. V., 1967. Study of the food and food relations of fishes during the Soviet period. Voprosy ikhtiologii 7, 801815. [Translation U.S. Bureau of Commercial Fisheries, Washington D.C.]
Clark, R. S., 1922. Rays and skates (Raiae). No. 1. Egg capsules and young. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 12, 577643.
Day, F., 1880–84. The Fishes of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 1, 336 pp; vol. 2, 388 pp. London and Edinburgh: William and Norgate.
Du Buit, M. H., 1969. Alimentation de quelques Rajides. Bulletin de la Société scientifique de Bretagne, 43, 305314.
Du Buit, M. H., 1973. Variations saisonnieres et geographiques de Raises dans les captures des chaluliets concarnois: prise par unit d'effort, frequence et importance des especes. Cahiers de biologie marine, 14, 529545.
Holden, M. J. & Tucker, R. N., 1974. The food of Raja clavata Linnaeus 1758, Raja montagui Fowler 1910, Raja naevus Miiller & Henle 1841 and Raja brachyura Lafont 1873 in British waters. Journal du Conseil, 35, 189193.
Hynes, H. B. N., 1950. The food of freshwater sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus and Pygosteus pungitius) with a review of methods used in studies of the food of fishes. Journal of Animal Ecology, 19, 3658.
Kalmijn, A. J., 1966. Electro-perception in sharks and rays. Nature, London, 212, 12321233.
Lazzaretto, I., 1964. Osservazioni sull’ alimentazione di selacei dell’ Adriatico. Atti del Istituto veneto di scienze, leltere edarti, 122, 219228.
Shorygin, A. A., 1939. Foods, selective capacity and food interrelationship of certain Gobiidae of the Caspian Sea. Zoologicheskiĭ zhurnal, 18, 2753.
Steven, G. A., 1930. Bottom fauna and the food of fishes. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 16, 677706.
Steven, G. A., 1932. Rays and skates of Devon and Cornwall. II. A study of the fishery; with notes on the occurrence, migrations and habits of the species. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 18, 134.
Steven, G. A., 1947. The British Raiidae. Science Progress, 35, 220236.
Wilsqn, D. P., 1953. Notes from the Plymouth aquarium. II. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 32, 199208.
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Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
  • ISSN: 0025-3154
  • EISSN: 1469-7769
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-marine-biological-association-of-the-united-kingdom
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