Squid Body From Whale Stomach

Steve O'Shea

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I'm lucky. Here's a translated transcript of the message (as I received it) from a 'Bruno'. I responded with a tentative identification as Grimalditeuthis (given the rather obvious double fin).

Bruno, I hope that you do not mind my posting your message and photographs.

"Translation :of the E-mail dated Friday January 9th/04
Phil. BOUCHET, from the Museum National of Natural History of Paris , gave to me your references as the main specialiste of giant squids .
During a fishing session , I found at abaout 5km from MOOREA Island (PF) the top part & the tentacules of giant squid . The top part is 1,5 metre . The tentacules 2 metres .On the picture of the top, the white part is a gelatinous skirt ( similar to jelly-fish skin ) and is 1/2 centimeter thick only . The base of the tentacules is cut at the level of the eye , which misses . The hole the eye is about 8 to 9 cm . The tentacules are not kind of ligamentous, as on octopus. But they are gelatinous end with small suckers. I froozed the tentacules for an eventual DNA analysis.

I think the main part of the body has been eaten by a cachalot. The hole & the rip on the "fin" might be made by some large teeth. A fisherman friend of mine has seen a group of cachalots at about 10 Km from here and olso some pieces of big squids.

I hope that the photos and details will allow you to identify this giant squid. I would appreciate that you let me know if it belongs to a know species, and olso does this species wears the 2 long tentacules, end up with suckers? What is estimate of its size and weight .
Can you send to me some drawings or pictures of a specimen of this species ? ; The professor Phil. BOUCHET asked me olso to information .
I thank you by advance .
Sincerely .
Best wishes for 2004 .
BRUNO"
 

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Steve O'Shea

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... one rather interesting thing to come out of the most recent posts is that in each instance the squid has been extensively damaged by the whale, although we have been led to believe that the whale generally consumes the squid whole (without a tooth mark) [moreover, I have been guilty of perpetuating this myself]. This might not be the case.

One of the interesting things about the stomach content analyses (incomplete ... still so much to do) is that the number of lower and upper beaks does not match. Of course the likelihood of a whale cleaving a squid right through the centre of the buccal bulb is exceedingly remote ... but the number of beaks in a whale stomach need not always reflect the number of squid eaten (when the head was not consumed).

If the whale is even more fussy that we have ever considered before, given the distribution of distasteful ammonium ions throughout the body of these things could well be unequal (as it is in Architeuthis), the whale might chomp the head end (more tasty) and ditch the mantle .

Just thinking aloud (no proof to back it up).

I should dig out some more of these weird pics I get sent.
 

Steve O'Shea

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I had considered this before - maybe the ammoniacal nature of the squid was required to assist with beak regurgitation - but I don't think that this is the case any longer. It is possible that the whale simply eats vast quantities of ammoniacal squid because it doesn't care/mind, because it was an otherwise untapped resource, or perhaps because that was what was available at the particular depth horizon within which the whale fed.

I put out a rather interesting paper a couple of years ago regarding rehabilitating whales and appropriate diet, in conjunction with Charles Manire at MOTE Marine Laboratory, down Sarasota, Florida. Perhaps I should scan it and place it online. Next week; a little R & R is on the schedule this weekend.
 

Nik

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Thought I’d add my two penneth here. Are we assuming that the bits of squid we’re seeing are what’s left after physeter’s had a go at it and these are the parts it didn’t eat? I’d assumed that these chunks are essentially whale vomit?! I’ve heard that sperm whales are pretty easy to scare and that if a few pseudorca or even dolphins hassle one it’s likely to throw up. There is a theory that the pseudorca are doing this so they can eat the chunks of squid etc that the sperm, whale, how shall I put it, spews. :yuck: Nice.

If this is the case, perhaps the tentacles and head are being snaffled by something or have sunk and only the large ammoniac etc tissues remain undepredated on the surface – this is assuming the whale threw up all the parts of the squid in the first place. Also, can anything else take a squid this size? If a beaked whale or something else that can get down to where these squid live was responsible, perhaps they can’t swallow the whole thing and are leaving the mantle?

Additionally, Grimalditeuthis, with such a low protein content surely doesn’t make a great meal for many scavengers – is this why it’s untouched, or am I being dumb? Probably the latter .
Sorry for the ramble, mostly questions I’m afraid.
 

Clem

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:shock:

A few thoughts and questions:

If the sperm whale isn't fussy, it might just be sloppy. Operating in the dark, and not terribly agile, perhaps it just plows through a group of stunned, echo-located squid, chomping and gulping as it goes. Maneuvering to reclaim the bits that get pinched off would consume time and air-supply. Caught in the powerful fluke wash of the descending whale, those missed pieces would be pushed towards the surface. Just visualizing, here.

As for the disparity in upper/lower beak retention, is one half generally more firmly anchored to the buccal muscles than the other? In other words, if a cetacean bit down on the head of a squid, might one half of the beak pop out into the water and miss being swallowed? Alternately, would one half be more readily passed out the back end?

Bruno's squid definitely has a chiroteuthid look to it. My first thought was that it looked like Joubiniteuthis, with those very long arms, lanceolate fins and long tail, but it's too big (I think). One of the arms looks quite a bit smaller than the rest...one of the 1st arm pair? The size of the arms suggests that the missing tentacles might be comparitively slight.

The image of a sperm whale being harassed into vomiting is mind-boggling. A bit like a child being shaken down by bullies for lunch money. Nik, your point about cetaceans besides sperm whales being responsible for these maulings is well taken. You know what they say about assumptions.

Cheers,

Clem
 

Steve O'Shea

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A lot to digest there! Just bouncing ideas around - not answering anything in particular.

Nik, the whale-vomit theory - rather interesting; but what if they don't vomit as often as has been popularised (every time a spider walks up behind them and goes 'boo'). Stranding must be a pretty stressful affair, and the majority don't appear to have regurgitated stomach contents. Sure, sticking a harpoon in your hide, then towing the life out of you and hauling you aboard a vessel is going to be extremely stressful, yet even after all of this entire squid have been recovered from stomachs. I see little point in being the largest thing down there, capable of diving to preposterous depth, and being timid, puking at every noise or bump in the dark.

Perhaps vomit under duress is the exception rather than norm.

Beaks .... ja, the lower beak just pops out with a quick squeeze of the buccal bulb (with thumb, behind the hood). It would be the lower that is used for identification, wouldn't it. Heavens, Clem, nail on the head; the upper beak is tightly bound in musculature - it doesn't fall out all that often.
 

Clem

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um... said:
Asperoteuthis of some sort?
Asperoteuthis sp. A

Hmmm, very interesting. Has the right look, um..., though there's not much at Tree of Life about size. Little known animals can be so uncooperative. Did you read the bit about how Asperoteuthis might "swim" its tentacles around by using the fins on the clubs? Very cool.

Cheers,

Clem
 

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