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Gonatus fabricii
Photo: MAREANO/IMR
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Dancing squid

Apparently undisturbed by the light from the video rig, the little octopus "dances" in front of the camera at the Moskenes fishing ground off the Lofoten archipelago in northern Norway. It moves around in the water with small, almost transparent wings, while the rest of the animal has sharp colors. As most cephalopods, this species also has arms, ready to catch a passing prey.

The name of this species of Octopus is Gonatus fabricii and it may reach a length of up to 35 cm. It occurs in large quantities in e.g. the Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea, where this species is an important food resource for whales, seals, fish and seabirds. In the Norwegian Sea, Gonatus comprise the main diet of the sperm whale, beaked whale and the narwhale. Observations of these whale species thus may be linked to the occurrence of squid.

- When the squid is less than 5 cm long it is found in the upper water layers. In the Norwegian Sea, we have previously observed large amounts of young Gonatus fabricii close to the surface in summer. As they grow, the squid migrates downwards to deeper water, and the adults reside at depths from 200 to 3000 meters, says Tone Falkenhaug, a researcher at the Institute of Marine Research.


This video shows an Octopus seen on a MARENO survey off the Lofoten Islands (station R274) in 2008. Three octopuses were observed at this station.

Occurs in large quantities

Stomach analyses have shown that the sperm whales alone probably eat 500.000 tons of Gonatus in Norwegian waters each year, suggesting that the total amount of Gonatus is very large. The possibility of commercial exploitation of this species has therefore been discussed. However, we have poor knowledge on both distribution and amounts of Gonatus in Norwegian waters, partly because it lives at such great depths.

Intelligent and mysterious

Generally, squids have the most developed brain of all invertebrates, and they have an ability both to learn and recall their experiences.

- Through repeated exercises, octopuses have learned to open beer bottles, play with a ball, and find their way out of a maze. There is still much we do not know about the biology and behaviour of squids, especially regarding species that live at great depths. Therefore, mysterious stories are connected to this group of animals, says Tone Falkenhaug.

Contact

Tone Falkenhaug
975 21 662