Home > Explore Data & Reports > Feeding by Bluefish and Weakfish along Riprap-Hardened Shorelines: Comparisons with Adjacent Sandy Beach in Delaware Bay, USA


Torre, M.P., and T.E. Targett. 2017. Feeding by Bluefish and Weakfish along Riprap-Hardened Shorelines: Comparisons with Adjacent Sandy Beach in Delaware Bay, USA. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 146(3):341-348. https://doi.org/10.1080/00028487.2016.1269023

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Shoreline hardening alters the morphology of the intertidal zone and has been shown to impact various measures of shore zone habitat quality. Diet composition and stomach fullness of two predatory fishes, the Bluefish Pomatomus saltatrix and Weakfish Cynoscion regalis, were compared between natural (beach) shorelines and adjacent hardened (riprap) shorelines at three sites in Delaware Bay during July and August 2013 to assess differences in shore zone habitat function. Young Bluefish were available from one site, and their diet consisted primarily of Bay Anchovy Anchoa mitchilli, Atlantic Silversides Menidia menidia, and the mysid shrimp Neomysis americana. Bluefish diet composition differed significantly between beach and riprap during July, with Atlantic Silversides predominating in beach samples and mysids dominating riprap samples. Bluefish also had significantly higher feeding activity (stomach fullness) along beach shorelines than along riprap during August. For young Weakfish, diets were dominated by mysid shrimp, Bay Anchovy, polychaetes, and larval horseshoe crabs Limulus polyphemus and were similar between beach and riprap shorelines at all three sites. The presence of riprap appears to affect foraging by Bluefish, perhaps through alterations in prey fields, capture efficiencies, or both. Results reported here for both species demonstrate the need for further research to assess the effects of shoreline hardening on foraging by dominant species along the U.S. mid-Atlantic coast.

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