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Feeding habits of the Atlantic bluefin tuna, Thunnus thynnus L 1758, in the central Mediterranean Sea Strait of Messina

, : Feeding habits of the Atlantic bluefin tuna, Thunnus thynnus L 1758, in the central Mediterranean Sea Strait of Messina. Helgoland Marine Research 67(1): 97-107

The study of feeding habits of the Atlantic bluefin tuna was carried out in 123 specimens, ranging from 115 to 222 cm fork length (FL) and collected during spring seasons of 21 and 211 in the central Mediterranean Sea (Strait of Messina). The analysis of stomach contents allowed us to identify 91 taxa of prey items, mainly belonging to Teleostea (54), Cephalopoda and Crustacea (13). The percentage of index of relative abundance (IRI) shows the highest values for the myctophid Hygophum benoiti (%IRI = 22.854) and the stomiid Chauliodus sloani (%IRI = 15.124), followed by the oegopsid squid Illex coindetii (%IRI = 14.316). The broad spectrum of prey items could suggest a generalist behavior of this predator, with several species that occasionally occurs in its diet. However, if prey are grouped into food categories, the importance of mesopelagic and benthopelagic fishes can be appreciated (54.41 % of %IRI). The assessment of the hypothetical foraging rhythm of the Atlantic bluefin tuna highlighted that its feeding activity is concentrated on diel migrating fauna during night and on larger preys upon daylight. The predation on the high-energetic food as mesopelagic and bathypelagic fishes during the pre-spawning and the spawning period may bring an energetic advantage in tuna metabolism and gonadal maturation.


DOI: 10.1007/s10152-012-0307-2

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