Feeding ecology of the deep-sea lanternshark Etmopterus pusillus (Elasmobranchii: Etmopteridae) in the northeast Atlantic
This study provides the first description of the feeding ecology of the smooth lanternshark Etmopterus pusillus based on stomach contents of specimens caught as bycatch in the Algarve (southern Portugal) with bottom trawling and bottom longline. The diet of E. pusillus consists mainly of fish (dry weight (% W)=87.1%; frequency of occurrence (%FO)=28.6%; number (%N)=30.3%), crustaceans (%W=7.7%; %FO=36.7%; %N=3.4%) and cephalopods (%W=4.7%; %FO=11.3%; %N=11.1%). The diet did not vary between sexes. Ontogenic changes were detected: crustaceans decreased in importance as the sharks increased in size and fish became dominant in the diet of adults. Combining two fishing methods provided broad information on the diet of E. pusillus, as bottom trawling caught smaller specimens and longlines caught larger individuals. E. pusillus feeds mainly on non-commercial species, and therefore does not compete directly with commercial fisheries. Finally, E. pusillus feeds in various parts of the water column and thus it can access a wide range of prey; however, this also means that it can be caught by both gears, making it more vulnerable in terms of conservation.
Authors: Xavier, José C., Vieira, Cátia, Assis, Carlos, Cherel, Yves, Hill, Simeon, Costa, Esmeralda, Borges, Teresa C., Coelho, Rui