Foraging behavior and interaction with prey is an integral component of the ecological niche of predators but is inherently difficult to observe for highly mobile animals in the marine environment. Billfishes have been described as energy speculators, expending a large amount of energy foraging, expecting to offset high costs with periodic high energetic gain. Surface-based group feeding of sailfish, Istiophorus platypterus, is commonly observed, yet sailfish are believed to be largely solitary roaming predators with high metabolic requirements, suggesting that individual foraging also represents a major component of predator–prey interactions. Here, we use biologging data and video to examine daily activity levels and foraging behavior, estimate metabolic costs, and document a solitary predation event for a 40 kg sailfish. We estimate a median active metabolic rate of 218.9 ± 70.5 mgO2 kg−1 h−1 which increased to 518.8 ± 586.3 mgO2 kg−1 h−1 during prey pursuit. Assuming a successful predation, we estimate a daily net energy gain of 2.4 MJ (5.1 MJ acquired, 2.7 MJ expended), supporting the energy speculator model. While group hunting may be a common activity used by sailfish to acquire energy, our calculations indicate that opportunistic individual foraging events offer a net energy return that contributes to the fitness of these highly mobile predators.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Logan, Ryan K.; Sarah M. Luongo; Jeremy Vaudo; Bradley M. Wetherbee; and Mahmood Shivji. 2023. "Hunting behavior of a solitary sailfish Istiophorus platypterus and estimated energy gain after prey capture." Scientific Reports 13, (1484). doi:10.1038/s41598-023-28748-0.