Journal Article

Food Habits of Finless Porpoises Neophocaena phocaenoides in Western Kyushu, Japan

Miki Shirakihara, Kenji Seki, Akira Takemura, Kunio Shirakihara, Hideyoshi Yoshida and Takeshi Yamazaki

in Journal of Mammalogy

Published on behalf of American Society of Mammalogists

Volume 89, issue 5, pages 1248-1256
Published in print October 2008 | ISSN: 0022-2372
Published online October 2008 | e-ISSN: 1545-1542 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1644/07-MAMM-A-264.1
Food Habits of Finless Porpoises Neophocaena phocaenoides in Western Kyushu, Japan

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  • Zoology and Animal Sciences
  • Animal Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology
  • Animal Ecology
  • Animal Physiology
  • Mammalogy

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We examined the stomach contents of 87 finless porpoises (Neophocaena phocaenoides) in the Ariake Sound–Tachibana Bay area and Omura Bay in western Kyushu, Japan, between 1987 and 1992. Fish (Gobiidae and Atherinidae) were the most numerous and most frequently occurring prey in Omura Bay, whereas both cephalopods (Octopodidae, Sepiidae, Sepiolidae/Sepiidae, and Loliginidae) and fishes (Clupeidae, Engraulidae, and Sciaenidae) were equally important in Ariake Sound–Tachibana Bay. Species compositions in the commercial catch differed between the 2 waters, suggesting that differences in prey availability may explain the geographical variation in diet. Finless porpoises in Ariake Sound–Tachibana Bay showed ontogenetic and seasonal variations in diet. The mean length at weaning was estimated to be 101 cm, corresponding to approximately 6 months of age. Calves fed on small-sized demersal fish and cephalopods. The predominant prey species for sexually mature individuals (including lactating females) consisted of konoshiro gizzard shad (Konosirus punctatus) and cephalopods. Seasonal availability of these organisms may be related to births in the fall–winter season in Ariake Sound–Tachibana Bay. Size-dependent prey selectivity was equivocal. Day–night difference in foraging time was not indicated by the index of stomach fullness.

Keywords: bycatch; calving season; cetaceans; diet; finless porpoise; Japan; Neophocaena phocaenoides

Journal Article.  6111 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences ; Animal Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology ; Animal Ecology ; Animal Physiology ; Mammalogy

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