Antarctic jaws: cephalopod prey of sharks in Kerguelen waters

TitleAntarctic jaws: cephalopod prey of sharks in Kerguelen waters
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsCherel, Y, Duhamel, G
JournalDeep-Sea Research Part I-Oceanographic Research Papers

Only five species of sharks have been recorded in the Southern Ocean, where their biology is essentially unknown. We investigated the feeding habits of the three commonest species from stomach content analysis of specimens taken as bycatches of the fishery targeting the Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) in upper slope waters of the Kerguelen Archipelago. The three species prey upon a diversity of fishes and cephalopods. They segregate by feeding on different species of squids of different sizes. The small lanternsharks (Etmopterus cf. granulosus; 0.3 m on average) feed on small-sized Mastigoteuthis psychrophila, while the large porbeagles (Lamna nasus; 1.9 m) feed on small-sized histioteuthids (Histioteuthis atlantica and H. eltaninae) and on medium-sized juvenile ommastrephids of the genus Todarodes. Finally, the huge sleeper sharks (Somniosus cf. microcephalus; 3.9 m) prey upon large-sized cephalopods (Kondakovia longimana and Taningia danae) and giant squids (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni and Architeuthis dux). Thus sleeper shark is a fish with sperm whale-like feeding habits and, hence, the second top predator known to science to rely significantly on giant squids. Prey species and biology indicate that porbeagles are pelagic predators in the entire water column, while sleeper sharks are mainly benthic top predators and scavengers. The present study also underlines the diversity and biomass of the poorly known cephalopod fauna, including giant squids, occurring in outer shelf and upper slope waters surrounding subantarctic islands. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.