15 June 2013

A squid's human-like pregnancy

Gonatus onyx, commonly known as the black-eyed or clawed armhook squid, is abundantly found in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Little has been known about its life history because they spawn at great depths, making it difficult for researchers to study them. But with the recent developments in technology and fishery, Seibel and his colleagues (2005) were able to observe its brooding behavior - a very important insight on the reproduction of this species.

Squids are believed to be non-guarders, that is, they deposit their eggs on the sea floor and let them develop on their own. This species, though, begs to differ. It uses its hooks to hold the egg mass (2,000-3,000 eggs), extending from the mouth to well beyond its arms. Because of low temperatures (this happens at X,XXX m depths) and the relatively large size of their eggs, egg development is prolonged. The female squid can, therefore, carry this egg mass for a maximum of 9 months, much like women of our species. And despite of muscle degeneration at sexual maturation, female squids are able to protect their eggs from the inevitable threat imposed by the deep sea. All mothers have this intuition, regardless of what species they are. As Barbara Kingsolver once said, "Sometimes the strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws."

To know more about the black-eyed squid, visit SeaLifeBase.

If you have other information on them, you can e-mail us at sealifebase@fin.ph or come be a collaborator.

Seibel, B.A., B.H. Robison, and S.H.D. Haddock. 2005. Post-spawning egg care by a squid. Nature (Brief Communications) vol. 438, 15 December 2005 issue, p.929. See article here.

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