Seabird Abstracts

Riatt's Sandeel (Ammodytes marinus)

Species - Fish - Ammodytidae

From Wikipedia. The Raitt's sand eel is a keystone species in the North Sea food web. They are the prey of a significant number of species including seabirds, marine mammals and larger fish. Seabirds in particular rely heavily on the Raitt's sand eel to feed their chicks. When the sand eels leave their burrows to feed seabirds dive into the water to catch them and then return to their nests. Atlantic puffin, black-legged kittiwake, common guillemot and razorbills are all known predators of this species.

In the sea many larger fish species prey on the Raitt's sand eel including cod, haddock, whiting, saithe and mackerel. Many of these are very commercially valuable species and declines in sand eel have caused declines in their numbers due to lack of prey. Marine mammals also feed on Raitt's sand eels but less regularly. Mostly species such as grey seals, harbour seals and harbour porpoise consume lots of sand eels in the Spring and early Summer.

Raitt's sand eels feed mainly on zooplankton. By consuming zooplankton they act as a link through to the higher trophic level predators that eat sand eels.

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