RESEARCH - CETACEANS DIET
Knowledge of the diet of a species is crucial for understanding it’s behavior and ecology, and also has relevance to assessing the impact of potential changes in behavior or spatial use that may be associated with anthropogenic activities. Assessing diet for many species of cetaceans is difficult, given that most foraging occurs far below the surface and that stomach contents of stranded animals are rarely available.
Research into the feeding habits of cetaceans is relied on examining samples taken from the digestive tracts of stranded and by-caught animals. This depends on the identification and measurement of hard parts such as fish otoliths and cephalopods beaks. This project proposes to describe the diet composition of several species of cetaceans in Galicia by conducting stomach content analysis of available specimens collected from stranded animals by the CEMMA. The identification of each prey item to the species level and size and mass estimates of prey will allow for a detailed description and comparison of diet composition as well as provide insight into the foraging behavior and ecology of these cetaceans on the North-western coast of the Iberiuan Peninsula.
This program is conducted under a Research Permit issued by the Department of Environment of the Galician Goverment as part of our cooperation with the CEMMA (national networking for the study of marine mammals). Each year the Institute reports to CEMMA detailing the data collected and results obtained under the permit, prior to having a new permit issued.
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