To investigate how feeding behaviors change with prey size, high-speed video recording was used to examine the kinematics of prey capture and transport in 1-year-old swellsharks Cephaloscyllium ventriosum (Scyliorhinidae: Carchariniformes) feeding on two differently sized prey items. Prey capture in these sharks generally consisted of an initially ram-dominated capture bite, one or more manipulation bites, a holding phase during which the food was held in the teeth of the shark, and then suction-dominated prey transport. During initial capture and transport, most of the water taken in is forced back out of the mouth anteriorly rather than continuing posteriorly out through the gill openings. Dye experiments in which dye-perfused prey items were ingested by the sharks confirm this observation; distinct jets of colored water were video-taped as they were ejected from the mouth. Very late in prey transport, a bolus of water is ejected through the gill slits; however, by this time, the majority of water appears already to have exited the buccal cavity through the mouth. Such patterns were observed for sharks feeding on both small and large prey items. Although a basic pattern of prey capture and transport was regularly repeated among strikes, kinematic patterns during prey capture and transport were variable both within and among individuals, indicating that prey acquisition is not tightly controlled. However, the amount of variability was similar among prey sizes. In addition, there were no detectable changes in behavior due to prey item size. Ram-suction index values confirmed that similar capture modes were being utilized for both prey sizes.

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