[MARMAM] A taste for squid: the diet of sperm whales stranded in Greece, Eastern Mediterranean

Ilias Foskolos lifosk at hotmail.com
Fri Nov 29 07:50:06 PST 2019

Dear Marmam members,

on behalf of my coauthors, I am pleased to inform you on our recent publication in Deep Sea Research Part 1: Oceanographic Research Papers.

• Sperm whales in the Greek part of the Mediterranean Sea feed on mesopelagic and bathypelagic squids.
• The squids Histioteuthis bonnellii, Histioteuthis reversa and Octopoteuthis sicula form the bulk of the year-round diet.
• Sperm whale calves consume smaller squid than non-calves.
• Sperm whales in this part of the Mediterranean Sea do not directly compete for prey with fisheries.

Foskolos, I., Koutouzi, N., Polychronidis, L., Alexiadou, P. & Frantzis, A. A taste for squid: the diet of sperm whales stranded in Greece, Eastern Mediterranean. Deep Sea Res Part 1 Oceanogr Res Pap.  doi:10.1016/j.dsr.2019.103164

Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) inhabiting the world's oceans, prey mainly on cephalopods, but also feed on fish when found in higher latitudes. However, the feeding habits of endangered Mediterranean sperm whales have received little attention with thus far only two individuals analysed for their stomach contents. This study expands the available knowledge using analysis of the stomach contents from nine individuals stranded in Greece between 2005 and 2014. 48,166 prey remains were examined in total and 28,258 of them were identified to show that sperm whales fed on 18 prey species (17 cephalopods and one teleost) from 14 different families. 15 of these species were deep-sea squids, which are not presently targeted by fisheries. The most important prey species, both in terms of numerical abundance (%N) and abundance by weight (%W), was the oceanic squid Histioteuthis bonnellii (%N = 48.4, %W = 66.3) followed by H. reversa (%N = 28.4, %W = 13.8) and Octopoteuthis sicula (%N = 8.5, %W = 17.2). Calf sperm whales consumed smaller cephalopods of these three prey species than non-calves, probably because larger cephalopods are more difficult to catch. The vast majority of ingested cephalopods were gelatinous, slow-swimming and small. Therefore, sperm whales inhabiting the Greek Seas and likely the whole eastern Mediterranean Sea, appear to target prey that are easy to catch, but need to be consumed in great numbers to fulfil the energy requirements of the whales.

If you have any questions or you want a copy of the publication (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0967063719303103#appsec1), feel free to contact me at lifosk at hotmail.com<mailto:lifosk at hotmail.com>.

Best wishes,

Ilias Foskolos, PhD Fellow
Marine Bioacoustics Lab<http://www.marinebioacoustics.com/>

Zoophysiology, Dept. Bioscience
Aarhus University
C.F. Møllers Allé 3, Building 1131
DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
E-mail: lifosk at hotmail.com<mailto:lifosk at hotmail.com>

Twitter: theclickitclick<https://twitter.com/theclickitclick>
Phone: (+45) 50656572

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