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Rev. biol. mar. oceanogr. 48(2): 261-271


Feeding habits of Mustelus henlei on the western coast of Baja California Sur, México

Jesús Rodríguez-Romero1, Efrén Álvarez-Bauman2, María Ruth Ochoa-Díaz1*, Juana López-Martínez3 & Minerva Maldonado-García1

1Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas del Noroeste, S.C. Apdo. Postal 128 La Paz, B.C.S. C.P. 23000, México
2Centro de Estudios Superiores, Estado de Sonora, Rosales No. 189 Col. Centro Hermosillo, Sonora, México
3Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas del Noroeste, S.C. Km 2.35 Carretera a Las Tinajas, S/N Colonia Tinajas, Guaymas, Sonora, C. P. 85460, México

E-mail:,;*Corresponsal author:


The Brown smooth-hound Mustelus henlei is part of an important commercial fishery on the western coast of Baja California Sur (BCS), Mexico. However, very few studies have been performed on the feeding and reproduction biology of these sharks in Mexico. Our study is the first work focusing on this species on the western shelf (14 m to 250 m in depth) of B.C.S. We identified a total of 24 types of prey contents in the stomachs of M. henlei: 15 crustaceans, 6 fish, and 3 cephalopods. According to the index of relative importance (IRI) the main prey items for M. henlei was the pelagic red crab Pleuroncodes planipes (81.4%), followed by unidentified organic material (UOM) (15.7%), the mackerel Scomber japonicus (0.94%), and fish remains (0.84%). Conducting a prey analysis considering sex of M. henlei, P. planipes was the most important prey in both females and males, followed by UOM, and S. japonicus. Sharks found in deeper areas (120-150 m) and those caught on board the exploration ship BIP XII had a similar dietary composition to those found in the shallow waters of Punta Lobos (14-40 m) where for both regions, the dominant prey items were the pelagic red crab and UOM. According to Levin’s index, M. henlei may be a specialist feeder in this area. A diet overlap according to sex, area, and size was observed. The SIMPER analysis showed a low similarity in diet in relation to sex, size, and area. According to the ANOSIM test there were no significant differences. Knowing that M. henlei shows a specialist behavior could help research studies not only for species conservation but also for its habitat and the organisms that inhabit it, which are both of vital importance for this shark.

Key words:  Stomach content, diet overlap, specialist, Punta Lobos, Baja California Sur, México


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