Trophic ecology of the slender snipe eel, <i>Nemichthys scolopaceus</i> (Anguilliformes: Nemichthyidae)
Roughly 92% of the total volume of Earth's oceans is considered deep sea. The eel species, Nemichthys scolopaceus, inhabits these waters, and little is known of its diet, its place within pelagic food webs, and its overall ecological impact. In this study we quantitatively estimate the abundance, feeding and predation impact of this key predator. Specimens were collected in 2004 along Georges Bank as part of the Census of Marine Life Gulf of Maine project. Gut contents were analyzed, revealing thirteen prey types, primarily euphausiids and decapod crustaceans. Other potential prey (i.e. fishes) were absent from the diet, suggesting a fairly selective feeding preference. Of the 85 fish species collected, N. scolopaceus ranked second in abundance and first in total fish biomass. Therefore, this species is not only a large biomass contributor, but perhaps cycles a great deal of macrocrustacean carbon through deep-pelagic fishes in this, and likely other, ecosystems.
0792: Fish production