Whale sharks target dense prey patches of sergestid shrimp off Tanzania

Rohner, Christopher A., Armstrong, Amelia J., Pierce, Simon J., Prebble, Clare E. M., Cagua, E. Fernando, Cochran, Jesse E. M., Berumen, Michael L. and Richardson, Anthony J. (2015) Whale sharks target dense prey patches of sergestid shrimp off Tanzania. Journal of Plankton Research, 37 2: 352-362. doi:10.1093/plankt/fbv010

Author Rohner, Christopher A.
Armstrong, Amelia J.
Pierce, Simon J.
Prebble, Clare E. M.
Cagua, E. Fernando
Cochran, Jesse E. M.
Berumen, Michael L.
Richardson, Anthony J.
Title Whale sharks target dense prey patches of sergestid shrimp off Tanzania
Journal name Journal of Plankton Research   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0142-7873
Publication date 2015
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1093/plankt/fbv010
Open Access Status
Volume 37
Issue 2
Start page 352
End page 362
Total pages 11
Place of publication Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Oxford University Press
Collection year 2016
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Large planktivores require high-density prey patches to make feeding energetically viable. This is a major challenge for species living in tropical and subtropical seas, such as whale sharks Rhincodon typus. Here, we characterize zooplankton biomass, size structure and taxonomic composition from whale shark feeding events and background samples at Mafia Island, Tanzania. The majority of whale sharks were feeding (73%, 380 of 524 observations), with the most common behaviour being active surface feeding (87%). We used 20 samples collected from immediately adjacent to feeding sharks and an additional 202 background samples for comparison to show that plankton biomass was ∼10 times higher in patches where whale sharks were feeding (25 vs. 2.6 mg m-3). Taxonomic analyses of samples showed that the large sergestid Lucifer hanseni (∼10 mm) dominated while sharks were feeding, accounting for ∼50% of identified items, while copepods (<2 mm) dominated background samples. The size structure was skewed towards larger animals representative of L.hanseni in feeding samples. Thus, whale sharks at Mafia Island target patches of dense, large, zooplankton dominated by sergestids. Large planktivores, such as whale sharks, which generally inhabit warm oligotrophic waters, aggregate in areas where they can feed on dense prey to obtain sufficient energy.
Keyword Biomass threshold
Filter feeding
Tropical zooplankton
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: School of Mathematics and Physics
Official 2016 Collection
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 4 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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