Feeding habits of four species of istiophoridae (pisces: Perciformes) from Northeastern Brazil

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Abstract

Synopsis

Billfishes from the Brazilian oceanic northeastern region feed on a large food spectrum composed mainly of epipelagic species of fish and cephalopods, with occasional occurrences of mesopelagic organisms and crustaceans. The oceanic pomfret, Brama brama, and the squid, Ornithoteuthis antillarum, were the main prey items in the diet of the four species, occurring in at least 50% of the stomachs containing food. There was no correlation between body length of prey and predator, or between mass of stomach content and body mass in the individuals from 100 to 330 cm fork length. The feeding of the four species was characterized by constant ingestion of small quantities of food, and constant presence of food in the stomachs, with a predominance of epipelagic organisms of small sizes with an average of 8.0 cm. The reduced stomach size forces the predators to feed constantly on several meals during the day, and consequently provide constant energy for migration.

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