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Brazilian Journal of Oceanography
On-line version ISSN 1982-436X
VASKE JUNIOR, Teodoro et al. Forage fauna in the diet of bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus) in the western tropical Atlantic Ocean. Braz. j. oceanogr. [online]. 2012, vol.60, n.1, pp.89-97. ISSN 1982-436X. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1679-87592012000100009.
A total of 291 stomachs of bigeye tuna caught in the Western tropical Atlantic Ocean ranging between 60 and 195 cm fork length, were analyzed between October 2004 and November 2005. The vertical distribution of prey was studied in relation to their feeding strategies. A total of 83 prey items were identified of which 46 were fishes, represented mainly by brephoepipelagic, and meso-bathypelagic fishes; 20 cephalopods, 13 pelagic crustaceans, one tunicate, one heteropod and one pteropod. The Caribbean pomfret Brama caribbea was the most important food item, followed by other mesopelagic fishes such as Alepisaurus ferox, Omosudis lowei, Gempylus serpens, Brama brama and Diretmus argenteus. The squid Ornithoteuthis antillarum was the main preyed-on cephalopod, and the crustaceans Caridea and Brachyuran megalopae were also important food items. The feeding may occur continuously, all the time, or at least during the greater part of the day or night, as part of the feeding strategy to prey upon a vertically scattered small prey distributed in the water column. The relative equality in the proportions of surface, mid-water and deep-water prey organisms reflects the behavior of constant vertical displacement in the search for prey. Although the bigeye tuna prefers subthermocline layers, most of its prey items perform diel migrations and can be preyed on both near the surface and in deeper waters.
Keywords : Bigeye tuna; Micronekton; Pelagic.