Food and feeding of the argentine short-finned squid Illex Argentinus (Cephalopoda: Ommastrephidae) off southern Brazil

Santos, Roberta Aguiar dos; Haimovici, Manuel


Diet and feeding habits of the short-finned squid Illex argentinus were studied from the analysis of 729 stomachs of juveniles, subadults and adults caught with trawls on the continental shelf and slope off southern Brazil (26”35’S-34”3l’S)from 1981 to 1992. Food, in different degrees of digestion, was found in 363 stomachs (49.8%). Feeding activity occurred at day and night and seemed to be most intense at dusk and early night. The proportion of stomachs with food increased with size and sexual maturity. Fish occurred in 43.8%, cephalopods in 27.5% and crustaceans in 18.7% of the stomachs with food. Identified prey included the fish Diaphus dumerilii, Maurolicus muelleri and Merluccius hubbsi, the cephalopods I. argentinus, L.&go sanpaulensis, Spirula spirula, Semirossia tenera and Eledone gaucha and the crustaceans Oncaea media and Euphausia sp. The occurrence of fish increased with squid size, but both cephalopods and crustaceans were equally important for all sizes. Cannibalism was observed at all sizes. The overall low proportion of stomachs with food, the high rate of cannibalism and the low frequency of occurrence of crustaceans for the juveniles and subadults in all seasons, but particularly in the summer and autumn, may reflect a limited availability of food in the region. If this is true, the main nursery grounds for the spawners off southern Brazil are likely to be off the Rio de La Plata Front or in the offshore confluence between the Brazil and Malvinas Currents, where primary and secondary production is higher than off southern Brazil.

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