Marine Biology

, Volume 158, Issue 10, pp 2289–2298 | Cite as

Seabird use of discards from a nearshore shrimp fishery in the South Atlantic Bight, USA

  • Patrick G. R. JodiceEmail author
  • Lisa C. Wickliffe
  • Elena B. Sachs
Original Paper


Shrimp trawling is common throughout the southeastern and Gulf of Mexico coasts of the USA and is the primary contributor to fisheries discards in these regions. Tens of thousands of nearshore seabirds nest near shrimp trawling grounds in the USA, but to date, there has been no assessment of the relationship between seabirds and shrimp trawlers. We examined the taxonomic composition of bycatch, rate at which seabirds scavenged bycatch, and energy density of discarded bycatch in a nearshore commercial shrimp fishery. Bycatch was primarily comprised of demersal fish that are not typically accessible to the plunge-diving and surface-feeding seabirds that occur in the area. Hence, seabird diets in the region appear to be broadened taxonomically by the availability of discards. Results from discard experiments indicated that 70% of the nearly 5,500 items discarded by hand were scavenged by seabirds and that the fate of a discarded item was most strongly predicted by its taxonomic order. Laughing gulls scavenged the greatest proportion of discards, although brown pelicans were the only species to scavenge more discards than predicted based upon their abundance. Because this is the first such study in the region, it is difficult to ascertain the extent or intensity of the impact that discards have on nearshore seabirds. Nonetheless, our results suggest that it will be difficult for managers to clearly understand fluctuations in local seabird population dynamics without first understanding the extent to which these species rely upon discards. This may be especially problematic in situations where seabird populations are recovering following natural or anthropogenic stressors.


Proximate Composition Demersal Fish Atlantic Croaker Atlantic Menhaden Success Index 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was funded by the Cooperative Fisheries Research Program of the Marine Resources Division of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. We thank all the shrimp boat captains who provided us access to collect data; Captains W. Magwood, G. McClellan, C. Racine, and D. Donnelly of the F/Vs Winds of Fortune, MissGeorgia,Cape Romain, and Village Lady. Thanks to Mrs. B. Byrd and family for providing housing and to F. Sanders (SCDNR) for lodging and support. J. Rieck, B. Bridges, F. Sanders, R. Powell, C. Haney, P. Sievert, and D. Whittaker provided comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript. The South Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit is supported jointly by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Clemson University, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Wildlife Management Institute.

Supplementary material

227_2011_1733_MOESM1_ESM.doc (47 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 47 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag (outside the USA) 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick G. R. Jodice
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Lisa C. Wickliffe
    • 2
    • 3
  • Elena B. Sachs
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.U.S. Geological Survey, South Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research UnitClemson UniversityClemsonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Forestry and Natural ResourcesClemson UniversityClemsonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Environmental Health SciencesUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  4. 4.Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation CommissionOcalaUSA

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