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African Journal of Marine Science

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Biology of the cirrate octopod grimpoteuthis glacialis (cephalopoda; opisthoteuthididae) in the south Shetland Islands, Antarctica

M Vecchione, U Piatkowski, AL Allcock

Abstract


The capture of 52 specimens of the cirrate octopod Grimpoteuthis glacialis (Robson, 1930), of dorsal mantle length 20–165 mm during a 1996 trawling survey near the Antarctic Peninsula allowed the basic biology of
the species to be examined. Their presence in bottom trawls at depths of 333–879 m, but their absence from benthopelagic and pelagic trawls, is consistent with a primarily benthic habitat. The largest single sample, 40
animals, came from a soft mud bottom and highlights the patchy nature of the distribution. Males tended to be bigger in total length and mass than females of similar mantle length. The males, however, were mature at
a smaller size. Mature males have tiny sperm packets, rather than typical cephalopod spermatophores, in their distal reproductive tract. Mature females have large, smooth eggs in the proximal oviduct, in the huge oviducal gland and in the distal oviduct. Eggs in the distal oviduct have a thick, sticky coating that hardens in seawater into a secondary egg case. Ovarian eggs vary greatly in size, possibly indicating protracted egg laying.
Observations on live animals indicate that the species swims primarily by fin action, rather than by jetting or medusoid pulses with the arm/web complex. It may be capable of limited changes in colour pattern,
especially on the oral surface of the web. Three pairs of surface structures that appear superficially to be white spots anterior to the eyes and near the bases of the fins are actually transparent patches in the skin. When
considered in association with the transparent subdermal layer and the anatomy of the eyes, optic nerves and optic lobes, these clear patches seem to function in detecting unfocused light on the horizontal plane of the benthic animal.



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