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Free Content Fishes Eaten by Sooty Terns and Brown Noddies in the Dry Tortugas, Florida

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Fish prey items sampled over a 50-year period from Sooty Terns (Sterna fuscata) and Brown Noddies (Anous stolidus) in the Dry Tortugas, Florida, were compared. Samples were from the nesting seasons during three time periods: 1920–1941, 1960–1964 and 1974–1976. Eighty-four species from 33 families were identified, showing a wide diversity in feeding. However, 13 families represented by at least 14 species composed the basic diets of these birds because they occurred during all three sampling periods. Ten of these are families of species that are either pelagic and open-ocean throughout their lives or species that have pelagic post-larvae or juveniles, the life stages preyed upon by the terns. Nine of these families are also found in the diets of Sooty Terns and Brown Noddies on Christmas Island, Pacific Ocean, and the Hawaiian Islands. The terns of the Dry Tortugas appear to be unique in that for at least the last 50 years they have exploited several reef-oriented species, including two species of benthic, burrow-dwelling fishes, the opistognathid Lonchopisthus micrognathus and the gobiid Bollmannia boqueronensis. Neither of these terns dives and both of these fish species apparently never come near the surface. They are brought to the surface and made available to the terns by shrimp trawlers as part of their bycatch.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1995-05-01

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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