Navigation Links
Goosefish capture small puffins over deep water of Northwest Atlantic
Date:4/10/2013

A recent study has shown that bottom-dwelling goosefish, also known as monkfish, prey on dovekies, a small Arctic seabird and the smallest member of the puffin family. To understand how this deep-water fish finds a shallow-feeding bird in offshore waters, researchers looked at when, where, and how these animals were most likely to be in the same place at the same time.

Remains of fourteen dovekie were recovered from the stomachs of 14 goosefish caught during the winters between 2007 and 2010. The goosefish were captured in gillnets deployed at depths between 275 and 495 feet in waters 65 to 95 miles south of Chatham, Mass. The Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen's Association collected the specimens and provided them for the research study.

Researchers from NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) in Woods Hole, Mass. and the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Md., wanted to know how the birds could be captured so far from shore by a fish that lives on the ocean bottom in deep water. Their findings, recently published online in the Northeastern Naturalist, suggest that it is all a matter of timing.

Goosefish (Lophius americanus) are highly opportunistic predators. Distributed from the Gulf of Maine to Cape Hatteras, N.C., the fish are typically partially buried on soft bottom habitats and attract a variety of prey by using a modified dorsal fin ray that resembles a fishing pole and lure.

Dovekies, a small black and white puffin species, breed along the Arctic coast and head south in the winter, typically as far as New England. The dovekie (Alle alle), also known as little auk, is the smallest of the auks. It lives in the open ocean and can dive to depths o more than 100 feet to prey on small fish, crustaceans, and zooplankton.

Study co-author Anne Richards of the NEFSC says tagging studies that she and colleagues have conducted reveal that goosefish swim considerable vertical distances from the bottom to near the surface, especially during their spring and fall migrations onshore and offshore in response to water temperatures and related factors.

Goosefish leave the bottom to use the currents during migration periods or to spawn at the surface. If prey items are encountered during their vertical movements, the goosefish take advantage. Hence, timing may be the key factor in bringing dovekies and goosefish together in the same place.

"Given the common name 'goosefish', it is not surprising to find birds in goosefish stomachs, but it is surprising to find that this predation occurs over deep water, "Richards said. "Goosefish do not actively seek out the dovekies, but when such tasty morsels are available in the water column, the fish are going to consume them."

Another source of data used in the study is the NOAA NEFSC food-habits database, which contains decades of predation information collected from the stomachs of fish that are caught during regular research vessel surveys. While not a particularly good measure of how often or how many birds are eaten by fish, these data confirm that not only goosefish, but also spiny dogfish, Atlantic herring, pollock, Atlantic cod, red hake, and fourspot flounder will eat birds.

Lead author Matthew Perry, a research wildlife biologist at the USGS Patuxtent Wildlife Research Center, says he became interested in goosefish predation when he learned from a sea scalloper on Nantucket that Chatham gillnetters were finding birds inside goosefish stomachs.

"I was studying long-tailed ducks and thought, to avoid being eaten, these birds fly 30 to 50 miles to Nantucket Sound each night and return to the ocean in the morning," said Perry, who studies several species of seaducks. "People ask why don't dovekies fly to Nantucket Sound at night like the long-tailed ducks to avoid goosefish? My explanation is that dovekies have small wings and can't make the routine flight."

"One thing we know is that dovekies cannot dive to the bottom in 300 to 400 feet of water," Perry said. "Goosefish probably come up from the ocean bottom to within 10 to 20 feet of the water surface at night. As dovekies dive for amphipods, small crustaceans, in the morning at first light, goosefish seize the opportunity and might use their 'fishing lure' to simulate one of these prey species by attracting the dovekies with their typical 'sit and wait' behavior."

The magnitude of fish predation on seabirds is poorly understood. Perry says most food habit studies for goosefish have been conducted during summer when the dovekies have migrated north to their Arctic breeding areas; thus, they seldom have been recorded as prey. Perry hopes more telemetry tracking of goosefish will be done in winter when birds are in the area and are potential prey.

As for what's ahead, Richards says ongoing use of electronic tags on goosefish will provide more information on their vertical movements.


'/>"/>

Contact: Shelley Dawicki
Shelley.Dawicki@noaa.gov
508-495-2378
NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. A milestone for new carbon-dioxide capture/clean coal technology
2. Caught in the act: Researchers capture key moments in cell death
3. No-till farming helps capture snow and soil water
4. Low-cost carbon capture gets X-rayed
5. Acoustic tweezers capture tiny creatures with ultrasound
6. Pitcher plant uses rain drops to capture prey
7. New materials could slash energy costs for CO2 capture
8. Computer model pinpoints prime materials for efficient carbon capture
9. Nea Kameni volcano movement captured by Envisat
10. Its a trap! New laboratory technique captures microRNA targets
11. Bacterial shock to recapture essential phosphate
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/23/2017)... 23, 2017 Research and Markets has announced ... & Trends - Industry Forecast to 2025" report to their ... The ... CAGR of around 8.8% over the next decade to reach approximately ... the market estimates and forecasts for all the given segments on ...
(Date:3/20/2017)... 20, 2017 PMD Healthcare announces the release ... Wellness Management System (WMS), a remote, real-time lung health ... PMD Healthcare is a Medical Device, Digital Health, and ... to creating innovative solutions that empower people to improve ... focus, PMD developed the first ever personal spirometer, Spiro ...
(Date:3/7/2017)... 2017 Brandwatch , the leading social intelligence company, ... Trust to uncover insights to support its reporting, help direct ... The UK,s leading youth charity will be using Brandwatch Analytics social ... a better understanding of the topics and issues that are a ... ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/29/2017)... ... March 29, 2017 , ... ... dedicated to finding cures for inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), and ReachMD , ... deliver exclusive content to ReachMD learners. , The partnership, which launched in ...
(Date:3/29/2017)... March 29, 2017  Vermillion, Inc. (NASDAQ: VRML), ... reported on its results for the fourth quarter ... "2016 marked a pivotal year for us ... inclusion, international distribution agreements, major reimbursement progress with ... payer agreements. In addition we cleared our 2 ...
(Date:3/29/2017)... March 29, 2017 "Surging application of gesture ... the government are expected to drive the growth of ... gesture recognition market is expected to be worth USD ... 29.63% between 2017 and 2022. The touchless sensing market ... 2022, growing at a CAGR of 17.44% between 2017 ...
(Date:3/29/2017)... SHANGHAI , March 29, 2017 ... technology platform company dedicated to biologics and a ... received the 2017 Asia-Pacific Best Bioprocessing Excellence Award ... Asia-Pacific Bioprocessing Excellence Awards aims to recognize outstanding ... of tomorrow. Featuring top bioprocessing and biomanufacturing experts ...
Breaking Biology Technology: