Geographical, and seasonal variation in the diet of harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) in Icelandic coastal waters
The stomach contents of 1,047 harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) bycaught in gillnets off Iceland were analysed. Most of the samples were obtained southwest (SW) and southeast (SE) of Iceland and the majority were taken in March and April. The sex ratio was biased towards males (63% males), particularly in the SE area (76%). The proportion of sexually mature porpoises was 35% and was higher in the northern part of the study area. Most examined stomachs contained identifiable food remains (97%). More than 40 fish and invertebrate prey taxa were identified.
Overall capelin (Mallotus villosus) comprised the predominant prey, followed by sandeel (Ammodytidae sp.), then gadids, cephalopods and redfish (Sebastes marinus), while other taxa were of less importance. Differences were detected in diet composition among 5 areas around Iceland with redfish and gadids more prominent in the northern areas. Off SW Iceland there was considerable seasonal variation in the porpoise diet, where capelin appeared to be dominant in late winter and spring and sandeel in the summer through early winter. Predominance of capelin in the diet coincided with the spawning migration of capelin from northern waters along the east, south and west coasts of Iceland. Mature females appeared to have a more diverse diet than other reproductive classes. The length distributions of fish consumed by the porpoises ranged from 1 to 51 cm although most fish prey were less than 30 cm.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (SeeThe Effect of Open Access).