MEPS 200:265-275 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/meps200265

Prey switching of Dall¹s porpoise Phocoenoides dalli with population decline of Japanese pilchard Sardinops melanostictus around Hokkaido, Japan

Hiroshi Ohizumi1,*, Toshiaki Kuramochi2, Masao Amano1, Nobuyuki Miyazaki1

1Otsuchi Marine Research Center, Ocean Research Institute, The University of Tokyo, Akahama, Otsuchi, Iwate 028-1102, Japan
2Department of Zoology, National Science Museum, Hyakunincho, Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0073, Japan
*Present address: National Research Institute of Far Seas Fisheries, Orido, Shimizu, Shizuoka 424-8633, Japan. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: The stomach contents of 150 Dall¹s porpoises collected during 6 surveys in the Sea of Japan and Sea of Okhotsk around Hokkaido in 1988 to 1996 were examined. A total of 49 prey types, including 29 species, were identified. Epipelagic prey items were found in samples collected during midday, and mesopelagic and some benthopelagic prey species were found in samples collected in the morning. Although the size range of prey was great, most prey were small. The dominant prey species switched in both seas from the late 1980s to the early 1990s as the Sardinops melanostictus (Japanese pilchard) populations in the both seas declined. In the Sea of Japan, the diet of Dall¹s porpoises switched to Theragra chalcogramma (walleye pollock), and in the Sea of Okhotsk, their diet switched to Engraulis japonicus (Japanese anchovy) and Berryteuthis magister (magistrate armhook squid). The utilization of new prey species did not always coincide with the fluctuation in catch statistics for the prey in local fisheries. Dall¹s porpoises fed on many benthopelagic prey species when epipelagic prey species were not available, suggesting that epipelagic prey species are the preferred prey. The vertical distribution of prey presumably affects prey selection.

KEY WORDS: Phocoenoides dalli · Sea of Japan · Sea of Okhotsk · Prey switching · population decline · Sardinops melanostictus · Prey distribution

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