Cephalopods in the Barents Sea

I am a US specialist on cephalopods, the squids and octopods and their relatives, on the Norwegian Research Ship Johan Hjort as a guest investigator. I was invited to participate in this study by Thomas deLange Wenneck of the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research. This cruise is part of a joint Norwegian/Russian multi-ship survey of the Barents Sea Ecosystem, north of both countries. In the past, they have caught squids and octopods and Thomas wants me to help identify the species in this area. I chose Johan Hjort leg 2 partly because it fit in with my schedule, but also because it is the 2nd farthest north and will sample in deep water west of Spitsbergen, as well as the shallower central Barents Sea. We are therefore likely to encounter the broadest range of cephalopod diversity.

Because this is the International Polar Year, I received some funding from the Smithsonian Institution to participate.

The diversity here is not very high, but it is also not very well known. So far, we have caught four different species on octopods, in two genera (the next level above species). The first picture shows a comparison of the two genera. The three species in one genus are quite difficult to identify, especially the females and juveniles. They require dissection to be confident about which specimens belong to which species. We have also collected many small juveniles of the common squid of the Arctic, called Gonatus fabricii. I have included a picture of these also. (Below)








In English, we call this family of squids the "armhook squids" because many of their suckers have transformed into hooks that are like little cat's claws. More interesting are the bobtailed squid that we have caught. These are short rounded squids that look sort of like octopods, as you can see in the final picture. All of the specimens of these that we have collected appear to belong to a species that has been in doubt. These specimens will help to resolve the question of whether this is in fact a distinct species.

Michael Vecchione
 NMFS National Systematics Laboratory
 National Museum of Natural History
 Smithsonian Institution
 Washington, DC , USA




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