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Squid beaks from whale stomachs

Steve O'Shea

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Hi all. Tintenfisch and I have just returned from a talk we gave on giant squid, giant octopus and other mysterious denizens of the deep, up country a bit. Whilst at the venue someone from the NZ Department of Conservation gave us a chilli bin of squid beaks (at least a thousand beaks) recently extracted (during autopsy) from the stomach of a stranded sperm whale (of length 13m, or ~ 40 feet). Therein were several (2 at least) giant squid beaks, and at least 4 (we haven't really looked at them in detail yet to give precise counts, and they still smell seriously evil and are covered in parasitic worms) of those belonging to Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni. Those of Mesonychoteuthis just leave those of Architeuthis for dead in the seriously evil stakes - they're considerably larger and CONSIDERABLY THICKER - almost capable of doing the 'cutting through cable' trick that you'll sometimes read about (with respect to Architeuthis).

In the months to come we'll try and describe a few of these beaks online for you (as a small project), as we try and reconstruct what species this whale had been eating, and where it had been eating them; it is really quite interesting stuff!! We also have the stomach contents of three pygmy sperm whales (Kogia) to examine, so the comparison might be of interest to people here.

Mesonychoteuthis is an Antarctic squid species (none is known from New Zealand waters, or at least none is represented in collections from NZ waters), so the sperm whale, stranding in subtropical waters, was likely feeding quite a bit south of New Zealand. I don't know the cause of death of the sperm whale, whether sick or disoriented, but will let you know as soon we find out.
Steve & Tintenfisch
 

Steve O'Shea

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Steve O'Shea said:
Time to make a prediction: you'll probably start hearing reports (maybe headlines if people are not bored with the squid already, and nothing else is happening in the news) of Architeuthis washing ashore or being caught in fishing nets in about 8 days (15 December) through to Feb (at least).O

Well, I've just returned from picking up samples from the Tangaroa (NIWA research vessel), and apparently a 15 foot Architeuthis was caught ~ 50°S [off the Auckland Islands] ~ two weeks ago [~ 8 December] by a fishing vessel working alongside; not sure where the specimen is yet, or if they even kept it - the vessel that caught it returned to New Zealand to unload several days ago. It looks like it is going to be another 'normal' year down here for GS.
O
 
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sharpcuda

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WOW steve you seriously are my personal hero!!!! This is no sarcasm...this is simply amazing stuff!!!! I may not be able to comprehend all of this right now...but will someday with your help!!!!

Tonmo has brought me so much closer to my dream!!!! You help me live it until i can be there in the flesh!!!!! :biggrin2:
 
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Steve O'Shea

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Holy guacamole .... now why doesn't anyone in my immediate circle of friends speak so highly of me? Oh, that's right ... they know me better. Even I don't like myself!

What're you studying Sharpcuda?
O
 
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sharpcuda

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Hello Steve did not mean to make you blush lol :oops: :oops:

I have learned alot from Tonmo and you though!!!
I am getting a BA in Zoology...Heading towards icthiology or invertebrae zoology. If I could only make up my bloody mind :x :?: lol
 
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Steve O'Shea

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....well, I'm ever so slightly biased when it comes to your 2 choices, so I'll stay out of it. HOWEVER, if you make the right decision :wink: and want to work on some aspect of ceph biology, systematics or culture in NZ in the future then sing out (but there are many other invertebrate groups to work on that I am interested in....).

....back to the thread though, we should have an update on the squid beaks from the old whale stomachs by the end of Feb.
 
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sharpcuda

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:smile: Thank you so much Steve really. My problem is I Think I have to many interests lol !!! Never a dull moment...!!! Can't wait to hear more about the squid beaks though!!! Should be interesting indeed!!!

Danielle
 
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Steve O'Shea

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Well, it looks like we'll receive the stomach contents of another whale very soon - this one a pygmy sperm whale (Kogia breviceps). I understand that in addition to beaks within the stomach contents we have a few whole squid - something that will certainly make squid identification easier!

As soon as we get the Architeuthis stomach content work complete (another thread) we'll move on the original sperm whale stomach contents (this thread), and then the new Kogia contents. We'll attach a few pictures so that you can see the nature and extent of the task for yourselves (there's a lot of beak to examine).

Us
 
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Tintenfisch

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Gidday all,
We'll have some pictures of the beaks posted by week's end (by which time I will have either finished the roll of film or figured out how to rewind it in the middle :wink: ). Be glad most of you are on the other side of the planet, though - any closer and you'd smell 'em for sure. :yuck:
 
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Steve O'Shea

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..... 2 days to go ..... (she put slide film in instead of print, and 36 exposure instead of 24, and she calls me disorganised :x )
 
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