Barracudas employ ram strike feeding, quickly lunging to force prey to into the jaws where sharp teeth and head shakes shear it into manageable pieces (Grubich et al. 2007, Porter & Motta 2004). The diet of S. barracuda consists mainly of schooling fishes, however studies of gut contents in both juveniles and adults have revealed solitary fishes and small numbers of crustaceans, mollusks and plant material (de Sylva 1963 & Fahs 1976). Prey selection is indiscriminate and determined by the mouth length of the barracuda, but certain prey items are found more frequently. In Florida, approximately 70% of the diet of juvenile S. barracuda is comprised of gobies, herrings, sardines and silversides (de Sylva 1963). In the Indian River Lagoon, the dominant prey item of young barracuda is the bay anchovy, Anchoa mitchilli (Fah 1976). Nearshore and coral reef fishes such as ballyhoo, triggerfishes and mullet are the primary prey of adult barracuda (de Sylva 1963). Predators: The speed and size of adult S. barracuda allows for few predators. However, juveniles and small adults have been reported in the guts of the goliath grouper, Epinephelus itajara, the dolphinfish, Coryphaena hippurus and several species of tuna (de Sylva, 1963). Habitats: Juvenile barracuda are commonly found in estuaries where they feed and take shelter in seagrass beds and among mangrove prop roots (Fah 1976). Solitary individuals or small groups of adults are typical on nearshore and coral reefs (Gudger 1918). Activity Time: Fah (1976) found that S. barracuda in the Indian River Lagoon are a diurnal species (active during the day), feeding in seagrass and mangrove habitats two hours after sunrise to about two hours before sunset. The great barracuda shares a similar diet with the northern sennet, S. borealis, which is a nocturnal feeder most active between 3:00 am and approximately two hours before sunrise. Differences in activity time between these two species are thought to be a method of niche separation to reduce competition for food resources.
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- Porter HT and PJ Motta. 2004. A comparison of strike and prey capture kinematics of three species of piscivorous fishes: Florida gar (Lepisosteus platyrhincus), redfin needlefish (Strongylura notata), and great barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda). Mar. Biol. 145: 989-1000.
- Russell, BC. 2002. Sphyraenidae. pp. 1807-1811. In: The living marine resources of the Western Central Atlantic. Volume 3: Bony fishes part 2 (Opistognathidae to Molidae), sea turtles and marine mammals. Carpenter KE (ed.). FAO species identification guide for fishery purposes and American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists special publication no. 5. FAO, Rome. pp. 1375-2127.
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