Feeding habits of the dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus) in the eastern Caribbean
Keywords:dolphinfish, Corypheana hippurus, diet, eastern Caribbean
The dolphinfish, Coryphaena hippurus, is an oceanic epipelagic fish with economic importance to sport and commercial fisheries throughout its worldwide distribution in tropical and sub-tropical waters. In the eastern Caribbean, dolphinfish are generally piscivorous, eating a wide variety of fish species including small oceanic pelagic species (e.g. flyingfish, halfbeaks, man-o-war fish, sargassum and rough triggerfish), juveniles of large oceanic pelagic species (e.g. tunas, billfish, jacks, dolphinfish), and pelagic larvae of neritic, benthic species (e.g. flying gurnards, triggerfish, pufferfish, grunts). They also eat invertebrates (e.g. cephalopods, mysids, scyphozoans), suggesting that they are essentially non-selective foragers. This appears to be typical of dolphinfish from other locations and of tropical oceanic pelagic species in general. Post-larval flying gurnards and flyingfish rank as the most important prey species overall. However, the diet varies with season, and mysids are a very important component from October to December. Diet also varies slightly with predator size (small dolphinfish eat fewer flyingfish and more squid than larger sized dolphinfish), and with sex (males take proportionally more of the active, fast swimming species such as flyingfish, squid and dolphinfish than do females). From these results and a review of the literature to determine the diet of other tropical oceanic species and the predators of dolphinfish, it can be seen that predator-prey relationships and interspecies competition for food clearly involve other commercially important species. As such, interactions between the surface trolling dolphinfish fisheries, the surface gillnet flyingfish fisheries, and the subsurface longline tuna fisheries in the eastern Caribbean can be expected.
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