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The promiscuous nature of deep sea squid



Scientists have recently gained a rare glimpse into the reproductive activities of deep sea squid. This was after remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) in the Moterey Submarine Canyon, off the coast of California, revealed footage of these extraordinary creatures engaging in same sex mating. 
Previous studies on deep sea squid found that males use a long penis like organ to deposit spermatophores (a complex sac like structure containing millions of sperm), onto a female, which are then absorbed into her tissue. Recent studies by Dr Hendrik Hoving, a marine biologist form the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research
Institute (MBARI) has shed new light on the reproductive strategies of deep sea squid. 
The focus of Dr Hoving’s studies was on Octopoteuthis deletron, which measures about 12 cm long (5 inch) and tends to be found at depths ranging from 400m to 800m.
Encounters with potential mates in the dark depths of the ocean are rare and consequently the ability of deep sea squid to distinguish between sexes is restricted. The lack of keen senses in helping deep sea squid to find a partner has led males to adopt an unusual sexual strategy that helps them to deal with the difficult conditions of the deep sea.
It was found that a similar number of males and females had spent sperm sacs on their bodies. This is thought to be the result of a combination of factors including bad light, similar male to female body size and the rarity of encounters. Dr Hoving suggested that this male strategy in wasting sperm on any squid that is encountered regardless of sex is apparently less costly than honing their ability to spot females. This unusual behaviour is simply the male squid’s way of increasing the likelihood of successfully passing on its genes in a very challenging environment. 
This behavioural strategy is particularly important as deep sea squid species only reproduce once and encounters are so rare between individuals especially those of the opposite sex.
Dr Hoving and his team of researchers are aiming to undertake further studies on deep sea squid by using genetic techniques to determine the paternity of the sperm packages. This will hopefully reveal whether more than one male is attempting to deposit its sperm on males and females.     
By Anthony Kubale



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Reader Comments (1)

Squid are really scary. They seem so mysterious and freaky!

September 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNordictrack Nate

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