Shifting feeding behaviour of deep-sea buccinid gastropods at natural and simulated food falls

J. Aguzzi, A. J. Jamieson, T. Fujii, V. Sbragaglia, C. Costa, P. Menesatti, Y. Fujiwara

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23 Citations (Scopus)


The deep sea is a low food input environment, hence large food falls from the surface waters are important in suppor ting a wealth of scavenging deep-sea fauna. The pr obability of observing such events is ver y low, due to their unpr edictable and short-lived nature. The video system of a cabled obser vatory installed within a cold seep clam field in Sagami Bay (1100 m depth; Central Japan) recorded a rare event. We observed a fish dying directly in front of the cam era and being immediately perceived and preyed upon by Buccinum yoroianum (Neo gastropoda: Buccinidae), while still alive. Up to 76 large snails responded to the fish and consumed the carcass within ∼8 h, with no inter vention by decapod crustaceans. There was only small par ticipation of eelpouts (Zoarcidae). For comparison, we report on supplementary findings from a different area and depth of the Pacific Ocean. These obser vations were recorded by a baited camera lander which simulated a food fall. W ithin 6 h, the buccinid Tacita zenkevitchi aggregated on the bait, competing with fishes. These observations confirm that deep-sea buccinids can shift their feeding behaviour between active pr edation and scavenging. Our perception, however, seems condi tioned by the observational methodology we use: buccinids may appear as scavengers when using photography (e.g. by baited landers) pr oducing single snapshots in time, or as pr edators when observed in a natural setting and video-taped continuously with a cabled observatory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-253
Number of pages7
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes


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