Marine Mammal Sci (2003)

DOI: 10.1111/j.1748-7692.2003.tb01091.x


Stomach contents of 112 bycaught harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) collected between 1989 and 1996 in the Kattegat and Skagerrak seas were analyzed to describe diet composition and estimate prey size, to examine sample size requirements, and to compare juvenile and adult diets. Although porpoises preyed on a variety of species, only a few contributed substantially to the diet. Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) was the dominating prey species for both juveniles and adults. Our results, in combination with those from previous studies, suggest that where herring is a dominant food source, porpoises prey primarily on size classes containing mature or maturing individuals. Further, we also show that Atlantic hagfish (Myxine glutinosa) may be an important food resource, at least for adult porpoises. Examination of sample size requirement showed that, depending on the taxonomic level used to describe the diet, a minimum of 35–71 stomachs are needed to be confident that all common prey species will be found.