Bringing the Ocean to Society
30 May 2019
Cannibalism in bluefin tuna larvae in western Mediterranean confirmed
A team of researchers from the EurOcean Member IEO identified a new feeding strategy in bluefin tuna larvae in its breeding habitat in the Balearic Sea (Western Mediterranean).

The results of the research, carried out to study the trophic behavior of Mediterranean bluefin larvae by analyzing the content of the stomach, were published in the journal Fisheries Research.

In the work, for the first time the behavior of cannibal feeding in larvae of bluefin tuna in their natural environment is described, in the laying area of the Balearic Archipelago, through the molecular identification of ingested prey larvae. This trophic behavior was evident when high densities of larvae were observed with a wide range of size classes.

In turn, the results of this study revealed the finding of microplastic fibers in the stomach contents of bluefin tuna larvae, which generates concern about the impact of contamination during larval development and its implications in the food chain.

The study was conducted by researchers from the IEO of the Oceanographic Center of Malaga, the Balearic Islands and the University of Málaga, in collaboration with US researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA-SEFSC) and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).

This research work is part of the project "Comparative trophic Ecology of Larvae of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna from NW-MED and GOM (Ecolatun)", whose main objective is to investigate, with a comparative approach and with different methodological approaches, how differences in the feeding strategies can explain the daily variability in larval growth of bluefin tuna and, consequently, in their survival and recruitment.