Food habits of Atlantic white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus acutus) off the coast of New England
Craddock, James E.
Polloni, Pamela T.
Wenzel, Frederick W.
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Although the Atlantic white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus acutus) is one of the most common dolphins off New England, little has been documented about its diet in the western North Atlantic Ocean. Current federal protection of marine mammals limits the supply of animals for investigation to those incidentally caught in the nets of commercial fishermen with observers aboard. Stomachs of 62 L. acutus were examined; of these 62 individuals, 28 of them were caught by net and 34 were animals stranded on Cape Cod. Most of the net-caught L. acutus were from the deeper waters of the Gulf of Maine. A single stomach was from the continental slope south of Georges Bank. At least twenty-six fish species and three cephalopod species were eaten. The predominant prey were silver hake (Merluccius bilinearis), spoonarm octopus (Bathypolypus bairdii), and haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus). The stomach from a net-caught L. acutus on the continental slope contained 7750 otoliths of the Madeira lanternfish (Ceratoscopelus maderensis). Sand lances (Ammodytes spp.) were the most abundant (541 otoliths) species in the stomachs of stranded L. acutus. Seasonal variation in diet was indicated; pelagic Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) was the most important prey in summer, but was rare in winter. The average length of fish prey was approximately 200 mm, and the average mantle length of cephalopod prey was approximately 50 mm.
This paper is not subject to U.S. copyright. The definitive version was published in Fishery Bulletin 107 (2009): 384–394.