Gonatidae

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Gonatidae

Magister Armhook Squid
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Mollusca
Class:Cephalopoda
Subclass:Coleoidea
Order:Teuthida
Suborder:Oegopsina
Family:Gonatidae
Hoyle, 1886
Genera

Berryteuthis
Gonatopsis
Gonatus

The Gonatidae, also known as armhook squid, are a family of moderately-sized squid. The family contains approximately 19 species in three genera, widely distributed and plentiful in cold boreal waters of the Pacific Ocean. At least one species is known from Antarctic waters, and two from the North Atlantic.

Contents

Physical description

Morphologically, armhook squid are fairly uniform: all species are characterised by the suckers of their arms, which are arranged in four rows (series) rather than the typical count of two. In most species the arm's two mesial rows of suckers have been modified into hooks and the tentacular clubs—which are covered with many irregular rows of tiny suckers—may possess an enlarged central hook, with or without several smaller hooks. In the Magister Armhook Squid (Berryteuthis magister), it is only the females who possess hooks. Species of the genus Gonatus differ from the rest of the family (and from most squid) by their lack of tentacles as adults.

Only one species, the Fiery Armhook Squid (Gonatus (Gonatus) pyros), possesses photophores; these are located on the ventral periphery of the eyes.

Gonatids typically have muscular, cylindrical bodies with very soft, reddish to purplish brown skin. The arms are thick and capable; the fins vary in shape and size, from saggitate and about 50 percent of the mantle length, to reniform and about 30 percent of the mantle length. Of moderate size, these squid range in size from 11 centimetres to 40 centimetres—most species are 25 centimetres or less. Females are somewhat larger than males.

Life history

These squid are pelagic, associated with the continental shelf and may roam as deep as 4,500 metres or more, depending on the species. Their habits are poorly studied, but the squid are thought to undertake diel migration; by day the squid remain in the blackness of the depths in midwater. By night, they ascend to the upper layers of the water column to feed by starlight. One species however, Gonatopsis (Gonatopsis) octopedatus, has curiously recurved arms, suggesting a benthic existence.

Prey items include both benthic and pelagic species, including; smaller fish such as sculpins and juvenile pollock, crustaceans including euphausiids and amphipods, and other squid. Cannibalism is also known to occur among the Gonatidae.

Cetaceans are important predators of gonatids; Baird's Beaked Whale, the Short-finned Pilot Whale, Dall's Porpoise and Sperm Whales are all known to feed upon them. Other predators include large seabirds, Northern Fur Seals and Elephant Seals, large fish such as grenadiers, halibut and several species of salmon. In far southern waters, Weddell Seals and Southern Fur Seals as well as several species of albatross and penguin feed upon Gonatus (Gonatus) antarcticus.

Species

External link

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