Pelagic fish predation on Cerataspis, a rare larval genus of oceanic penaeoids
Abstract:Two hundred and thirty-nine specimens of the larval crustacean genus Cerataspis were found during analysis of the stomach contents of over 10,500 pelagic fishes from the North Atlantic Ocean. Eighty-seven percent of the specimens collected were C. monstrosa and 13% were C. petiti. Surface-feeding skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis), yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), blackfin tuna (T. atlanticus) and dolphin (Coryphaena hippurus) preyed upon the last three mysis stages of Cerataspis. Yellowfin and skipjack tunas accounted for 95% of the Cerataspis collected. Other pelagic fishes feeding in deeper waters did not consume a single specimen, although mysis stages I and II have only been collected from deep water plankton tows. Fishes feeding around Sargassum are more likely to feed on Cerataspis as evidenced by the co-occurrence of the crustaceans and algae in the stomachs.
Predation by yellowfin tuna on Cerataspis does not decrease with increasing fish length. This pattern differs from that for other crustaceans and indicates that Cerataspis are opportunistically preyed upon when encountered. Most records of Cerataspis, either from stomach contents or plankton tows, consist of one or two specimens. However, 46 Cerataspis were collected from one yellowfin stomach, indicating that swarms may be encountered.
Ninety-three percent of Cerataspis were collected from coastal waters off North Carolina, suggesting that a population of as yet undescribed adults may reside there, or that the larvae are concentrated there by upwelling currents. A review of food surveys of pelagic fishes conducted worldwide together with other published accounts indicates that C. monstrosa and C. petiti have a nearly circumglobal distribution between 40°N and 40°S.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: March 1, 1985
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