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Observations of deep-sea sharks and associated species at a large food fall on the continental margin off South Carolina, USA (NW Atlantic)

Auster, Peter J.; Cantwell, Kasey; Grubbs, R. Dean; Hoy, Shannon

Observations of deep-sea dogfishes (family Squalidae) were made opportunistically via a remotely operated vehicle at a large food fall, a recently dead Atlantic Swordfish, Xiphius gladius, on a topographic rise at 453 m depth off South Carolina, USA (NW Atlantic). Genie’s Dogfish, Squalus clarkae (formerly S. mitsukurii), and Roughskin Dogfish, Cirrhigaleus asper, were the principal scavengers. Additional scavengers included crabs (Callinectidae) and a cutthroat eel (Synaphobranchus sp.). At least two Wreckfish, Polyprion americanus, were attracted to the carcass, and one was observed to prey directly upon a small dogfish. The aggregation of highly vagile scavengers to food falls, sources of organic carbon transfer to the deep sea, is generally assumed to be based on odor plumes, but acoustic cues from large and active scavengers can also account for rapid attraction of other scavengers and predators.

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