Cryptic diets of forage fish: jellyfish consumption observed in the Celtic Sea and Western English Channel

Philip Lamb, Ewan Hunter, John Pinnegar, Jeroen van der Kooij, Simon Creer, Martin Taylor

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To establish if fishes’ consumption of jellyfish changes through the year, we conducted a molecular gut‐content assessment on opportunistically sampled species from the Celtic Sea in October and compared these with samples previously collected in February and March from the Irish Sea. Mackerel Scomber scombrus were found to feed on hydrozoan jellyfish relatively frequently in autumn, with rare consumption also detected in sardine Sardina pilchardus and sprat Sprattus sprattus. By October, moon jellyfish Aurelia aurita appeared to have escaped predation, potentially through somatic growth and the development of stinging tentacles. This is in contrast with sampling in February and March where A. aurita ephyrae were heavily preyed upon. No significant change in predation rate was observed in S. sprattus, but jellyfish predation by S. scombrus feeding in autumn was significantly higher than that seen during winter. This increase in consumption appears to be driven by the consumption of different, smaller jellyfish species than were targeted during the winter.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1026-1032
JournalJournal of Fish Biology
Issue number6
Early online date12 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • 16s mtDNA
  • Celtic Sea
  • diet
  • English Channel
  • gelatinous zooplankton
  • molecular gut-content analysis

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