Figure 6: Composite showing several squids and octopods. Photo: Richard Young and Uwe Piatkowski.
All cephalopods captured on the MAR-ECO cruise will contribute to our understanding of their ecology, many will aid in clarifying the taxonomic status of their species, and some will provide new information on their life history and biology.
Among the many specimens captured by the different trawls, we found at 45-50 different species. Two squid, however, stand out in their potential impact.
Figure 7: Promachoteuthis sp.nov. Photo: Richard Young.
The first squid is a new and unusual species within the family Promachoteuthidae. The eleven previously known specimens in this family were taken from bathypelagic depths in the ocean and have small heads and small eyes covered with a semi-opaque "pseudocornea" of unknown function. Two of the eleven specimens belong to the only named species, Promachoteuthis megaptera, which was first taken during the RRS Challenger expedition over 100 years ago.
The MAR-ECO specimen, which is in excellent condition, is similar to a specimen captured in the North Atlantic by the R/V Walter Herwig during the early 1970s. If future study shows that the two latter specimens are indeed the same species, then they will provide sufficient material to describe and name the species.
The second squid belongs to Planctoteuthis, a genus of bathypelagic squid containing six species of which four are known only from paralarvae. The MAR-ECO specimen is a subadult, in excellent condition except for the loss of its tentacles during capture. Due to the squid's capture in the aquarium cod-end of the large Aakra trawl, the delicate and unique form of the head was preserved.
The subsequent trawl captured another specimen of this genus that was entangled in the meshes of the net and badly damaged. The second specimen, however, has an intact tentacle-club and if further study proves that both specimens belong to the same species, we will have a composite of what now appears to be a seventh and new species in this poorly known family.
Scientists to be credited: Richard Young, Michael Vecchione, Uwe Piatkowski