Stomach contents of northern bottlenose whales Hyperoodon ampullatus stranded in the North Sea - NMS Research Repository
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Stomach contents of northern bottlenose whales Hyperoodon ampullatus stranded in the North Sea

20 March 2001

Abstract

This paper presents information on the stomach contents of four northern bottlenose whales Hyperoodon ampullatus (Odontoceti: Ziphiidae) from the north-east Atlantic, an area for which there are few recent data on the feeding ecology of this species. Two of these whales were relatively recent strandings, a female stranded in August 1993 at Hargen (the Netherlands) and a male stranded in February 1997 on the island of Tåsinge (Denmark). Stomach content samples were also examined from a juvenile male stranded in November 1885 at Dunbar (Scotland) and a female stranded in August 1956 on the island of Texel (the Netherlands).  Food remains from the four samples consisted almost entirely of cephalopod beaks. Some fish remains were also found in the stomach of the Hargen and Tåsinge whales, and the latter also had crustacean remains in the stomach. The cephalopod prey consisted mainly of oceanic cephalopods: Gonatus sp. (probably G. fabricii, Cephalopoda: Teuthoidea), Taoniuspavo and Histioteuthis sp. for the Dunbar whale; Gonatus and Teuthowenia megalops for the Texel whale; Gonatus for the Hargen whale and Gonatus, T. megalops and Taonius pavo for the Tåsinge whale. Other prey species found in the Tåsinge specimen included the squid Histioteuthis reversa, H. arcturi, and the octopods Vampiroteuthis infernalis and Vitreledonella richardi. Based on the size of the lower beaks, the squid eaten included juvenile and mature individuals of the most important species (Gonatus and Teuthowenia megalops). The fish remains consisted of vertebrae of Gadidae and fish eye lenses (Hargen whale) and two Trisopterus otoliths (Tåsinge whale).  The results from this study are in agreement with those of previous authors in that cephalopods in general, and G. fabricii in particular, are the main prey of the northern bottlenose whale and other toothed whales in northern latitudes.

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