Feeding ecology of the estuarine dolphin (Sotalia guianensis) on the coast of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil



We analyzed the stomach contents of 40 estuarine dolphins, Sotalia guianensis (van Benédén 1864), beached on the coast of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, between February 2000 and February 2007. A total of 223 prey items were identified, including 18 species of teleosts and 5 species of cephalopods. The index of relative importance (IRI) showed that Larimus breviceps, Haemulon plumieri, Lutjanus synagris, Trichiurus lepturus, Mugil curema, and Diapterus rhombeus were the six most important species. The IRI showed that L. breviceps was the main prey for both adults and the young. H. plumieri was the most important for the males and T. lepturus for the females. Seven species of teleosts and two of cephalopods were recorded in the diet of estuarine dolphins for the first time in the country. Our results suggest that the estuarine dolphin can be a feeding specialist and that foraging activity occurs mainly in estuarine areas, where the animals can use passive listening to detect prey.