Food habits and ontogenetic changes in the diet of the sandbar shark, Carcharhinus plumbeus, in Hawaii

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The sandbar shark, Carcharhinus plumbeus, is a wide-ranging coastal species in tropical and temperate regions, and it is the most common species of shark in Hawaii, as in many locations where it occurs. Information on the diet and feeding habits of this species in the Pacific Ocean are extremely limited. For this study we quantified the diet of sandbar sharks in Hawaii based on records collected during the Hawaii Cooperative Shark Research and Control Program from 1967 to 1969. During this program a total of 565 stomachs were examined, of which 265 contained food. Sharks ranged in size from 59 to 190 cm total length. Teleosts were the most common prey group, but both cephalopods and crustaceans also occurred frequently. Ontogenetic changes in diet of sandbar sharks were apparent, with crustaceans forming a greater proportion of the diet of smaller sharks. Both cephalopods and elasmobranchs increased in importance with increasing shark size. Prey diversity also increased with size, with large, mobile, and reef prey species found more commonly in the diet of larger sharks. Mature male and female sharks appeared to segregate by depth, though major differences in the diet between the sexes were not apparent. However, there was some evidence of dietary differences between sharks caught in different depths and seasons. The results of this study suggest that sandbar sharks in Hawaii and throughout the world, are primarily piscivores, but also consume a variety of invertebrate prey, and that their diet varies with geographical location and stage of development. © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006.

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Environmental Biology of Fishes