Feeding ecology and interannual variations in diet of southern bluefin tuna, Thunnus maccoyii, in relation to coastal and oceanic waters off eastern Tasmania, Australia

Abstract

The diets of 1219 southern bluefin tuna, Thunnus maccoyii, from inshore (shelf) and offshore (oceanic) waters off eastern Tasmania were examined between 1992 and 1994. Immature fish (< 155 cm fork length) made up 88% of those examined. In all, 92 prey taxa were identified. Inshore, the main prey were fish (Trachurus declivis and Emmelichthys nitidus) and juvenile squid (Nototodarus gouldi). Offshore, the diversity was greater, reflecting the diversity of micronekton in these waters. Interestingly, macrozooplankton prey (e.g. Phronima sedentaria) were prevalent in tuna > 150 cm. The offshore tuna, when in subantarctic waters, ate relatively more squid than when in the East Australia Current. In the latter, fish and crustacea were more important, although there were variations between years. No relationship was found between either prey type or size with size of tuna. Feeding was significantly higher in the morning than at other times of the day. The mean weight of prey was significantly higher in inshore-caught tuna than in those caught offshore. We estimated that the mean daily ration of southern bluefin tuna off eastern Tasmania was 0.97% of wet body weight day−1. However, the daily ration of inshore-caught tuna was ∼ 3 times higher (2.7%) than for tuna caught offshore (0.8%) indicating that feeding conditions on the shelf were better than those offshore. Our results indicate that the inshore waters of eastern Tasmania are an important feeding area for, at least, immature southern bluefin tuna.

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Young, J.W., Lamb, T.D., Le, D. et al. Feeding ecology and interannual variations in diet of southern bluefin tuna, Thunnus maccoyii, in relation to coastal and oceanic waters off eastern Tasmania, Australia. Environmental Biology of Fishes 50, 275 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1007326120380

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  • fronts
  • shelf
  • oceanography
  • scombrid
  • fish