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Completed Partner Projects

Feeding Kinematics in the Chain Catshark (Scyliorhinus retifer)

Partnered with Matt Ajemian/Hofstra University.

Past studies of feeding kinematics in the elasmobranchs (sharks, skates, and rays) have focused on easily accessible species inhabiting the inshore and epipelagic portions of the ocean. Thus, our knowledge of feeding behavior in deep-sea elasmobranch fishes is nonexistent.

The chain catshark (Scyliorhinus retifer) is a member of one of the most well researched groups of elasmobranchs (order: Carcharhiniformes), yet its feeding strategies are unknown due to its inaccessible deepwater environment (>200m).

To better understand the feeding biology of S. retifer, we utilized high-speed videography to document the kinematic events during capture of two sizes of fish prey. Frame-by-frame analysis of the feeding behavior indicated that the chain catshark utilized stereotypical kinematics to capture its prey. In addition, prey capture was suction-dominated, which is in contrast to its taxonomic grouping among several ram-feeding sharks. Nonetheless, prey capture shows a strong similarity to the basic pattern of kinematic events described in feeding studies of other carcharhinoid sharks; although ram-suction indices were noticeably different from a closely related species (Cephaloscyllium ventriosum) previously studied. The suction-dominant feeding behavior of S. retifer appears concomitant with the feeding behavior of most benthic sharks.