Squid beaks from whale stomachs

Jean

Colossal Squid
Registered
Joined
Nov 19, 2002
Messages
4,218
Reaction score
138
Location
Dunedin, New Zealand
Hi Steve,

thanks for the info, I'll bug Kerry to see the beasts!! As regards my thesis, well you know what they say about the best laid plans!! The stats have turned seriously nasty and the dept is having to upgrade the stats packs to deal with them so I won't be submitting before christmas :cry: But sometime next semester when I can get my head round this multivariate stuff!!

J
 

termite

Pygmy Octopus
Registered
Joined
Nov 25, 2002
Messages
10
Reaction score
0
squid in beached sperm whale stomach

Hi all. I am pretty new to cephalopods but I find them very interesting. I am enjoying reading this subject! So much interesting information! Wow! I can hardly fathom a sperm whale having to eat 300 plus squid a day! Amazing. Is it like and elephant in that it eats most of the time and sleeps some of the time? As for the large antarctic species of squid the whale consumed, how big are they? Sorry for my ignorance on the little questions. Hope some one doesn't mind answering them.
Some one (Jean?) mentioned that the larger antartic squid may be found closer to NZ if a cool water current flows there. Is that like in the arctic where glacial meltwater sinks under the warmer ocean water and flows elsewhere?
Interesting about the blackened beaks. I wondered too, if the color was normal or caused by digestive juices. Will be interesting to find out. By the way, how big is that beak?
Am looking forward to reading more on this subject. Thanks for sharing!

Krissie
 

Steve O'Shea

TONMO Supporter
Registered
Joined
Nov 19, 2002
Messages
4,671
Reaction score
27
Carol, unfortunately the approximate 30 tonne dead weight of this whale prevented them from doing anything. One hopes that by keeping them doused in water between tides that they will 'refloat' on the next tide; it didn't happen here.

Krissie, will try and feed you a little more information on those beaks soon, including info on sizes - however the standard way of referring to beaks by their rostral length would make the beaks sound very small indeed. Next year we'll augment that 'guide to characters/character states etc.' [added by tonmo: see link here] with some beak illustrations/photo's so you'll understand what we're talking about a little easier. (It is difficult stuff, and I have to keep referring to books myself.)

Re the Antarctic water, yes, a bit like Arctic meltwater - a direct feed/body of water of Antarctic origin (the Antarctic Circumpolar Current) flowing from the Antarctic North to New Zealand ... but where it goes afterwards I'm not sure (it hugs the southernmost side of the Campbell Plateau, southernmost New Zealand, then heads East). I'll do a spot more reading on the subject and post something a little more detailed than this soon. It is possible that Antarctic species occur at depth off southernmost NZ, but until we get down there, 55-65°S with big nets that go 1000m+ we'll not know for sure (and the seas can get pretty volatile down that neck of the woods).
Cheers
O
 

Jean

Colossal Squid
Registered
Joined
Nov 19, 2002
Messages
4,218
Reaction score
138
Location
Dunedin, New Zealand
Very cool, squid flying onto the boat!! I've read about this sorta thing happening before (maybe Mark Normans book??). It'll be very interesting to find out what spp they are! Aren't ommastrephids known as flying squid??

catch ya

J
 

Steve O'Shea

TONMO Supporter
Registered
Joined
Nov 19, 2002
Messages
4,671
Reaction score
27
Not sure Jean - the one I thought was the 'flying squid' (or what the fishermen have referred to it down here) has always been Onychoteuthis 'banksii' (F: Onychoteuthidae). I've had a few of these delivered to me with all manner of wild and wonderful claims of flight .... thought the chaps had lost the plot when they first relayed the story to me.

....best do some more digging on the subject .... I think I'm digging myself into a hole :D
 

Jared

Cuttlefish
Registered
Joined
Dec 15, 2002
Messages
29
Reaction score
0
Very interesting stuff! I'm fairly new to these boards but I've really enjoyed reading this topic. By way of introduction, I'm the guy with the Architeuthis tattoo here. Anyway, back to the squid...

Not that I'd presume to be able to tell anyone here anything about squid but, according to Cephalopod Behaviour by Roger T. Hanlon and John B. Messenger, there are several species known as 'flying squid'. Here's a relevant quote from the book:

"Sometimes jetting takes a squid out of the water and there are several 'flying' squids known (e.g., oegopsids such as Onychoteuthis spp., Dosidicus gigas and some other ommastrephids); these animals may then glide tens of metres..."

(By the way, I really like the Cephalopod Behaviour book. There's quite a bit of interesting information and it's presented well enough that I can understand it despite having no formal background in biology.)


A thought occurred to me on the subject of how long beaks are retained inside the sperm whale. Assuming that the beaks are broken down rather than purged, would it seem reasonable that bigger, thicker beaks would take longer to digest than smaller ones? If that's true then perhaps the figure of 1.2 - 1.6 days for beak retention in a male would really only apply to an average sized squid beak. A thicker bigger thicker beak, like that of Mesonychoteuthis, might last considerably longer. Of course I have absolutely no idea how much longer that would be but perhaps that could explain why these beaks survived the trip up from Antarctica at less than light speed.

I am just making all of this up but, from where I sit (next to a small rubber sperm whale and giant squid in an apartment in California), it seems like a possibility.
 

Steve O'Shea

TONMO Supporter
Registered
Joined
Nov 19, 2002
Messages
4,671
Reaction score
27
It's a good point Jared, but 99.99% of the beaks in the stomach contents are in 'excellent' condition. If they were broken down via digestion then I would imagine there would be beaks in all stages of digestion (which doesn't seem to be the case); as such, purging would appear the most likely way of beak removal.

But wait until next year when we've had the opportunity to review the latest stomach contents in more detail. I think the story will become even more interesting. I've also been assured that the stomach contents of any subsequently stranded toothed whale will be heading our way ... so I think we'll be kept rather busy and rather smelly for quite some time yet.
Cheers
O
 

Steve O'Shea

TONMO Supporter
Registered
Joined
Nov 19, 2002
Messages
4,671
Reaction score
27
The following is an old but very interesting story with some parallels with modern whale behavour and diet. Thought I'd paste it here.

Discovery of fossilised vomit first evidence of dinosaur's diet

12.02.2002 10.07 am

A dinosaur-like animal that looked like a dolphin and swam like a fish can add another string to its bow – it was frequently as sick as a parrot.

Scientists have discovered the oldest fossilised vomit of ichthyosaurs, an ancient marine reptile that lived 160 million years ago by feeding off squid-like prey with indigestible shells.

The scientists unearthed the regurgitated stomach contents of ichthyosaurs in a clay quarry near Peterborough, north of London, which has provided the researchers with a fascinating insight into the feeding habits of these long-extinct creatures.

"We believe that this is the first time the existence of fossil vomit on a grand scale has been proven beyond reasonable doubt," said Peter Doyle, professor of geoscience from the University of Greenwich.

It seems that ichthyosaurs regularly regurgitated the harder elements of its meal, rather like an owl coughs up a pellet of indigestible bones and fur after digesting its prey.

The vomit "splat" contains the distinctive shells of belemnites, the nutritious shellfish on which the ichthyosaurs fed, which have been partly digested by the reptile's gastric juices.

"The Peterborough belemnite shells, viewed under a powerful electron microscope, have revealed acid-etching marks caused by the digestive fluids from the gut of the marine reptile," Professor Doyle said.

"This proves that the belemnites had been eaten by a predator. The fact that most of these belemnites were juveniles reinforces our view that they did not die of old age," he said.

Ichthyosaurs were to ancient reptiles what dolphins and whales are to mammals – an animal perfectly adapted to a fully marine life which evolved from a terrestrial ancestor.

Professor Doyle, who made the discovery with Jason Wood of the Open University, said the fossil vomit clears up a long-standing mystery of what happened to the shells of its belemnite diet.

"It is highly unlikely that these shells passed through the ichthyosaur's intestines and were excreted as droppings, as they would have damaged the soft tissue of the reptile's internal organs," Professor Doyle said.

"The only alternative is that the shells were vomited out, in much the same way that modern-day sperm whales regurgitate the indigestible beaks of squid they have eaten," he said.
 

corw314

Colossal Squid
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Nov 20, 2002
Messages
3,749
Reaction score
58
SOOOO....... Whale vomit!!!!! Makes sense when you compare to owls which vomit the pellet.

Although must say, I wouldn't want to be in the path!!!!!:mrgreen:


Carol
 

Steve O'Shea

TONMO Supporter
Registered
Joined
Nov 19, 2002
Messages
4,671
Reaction score
27
:) You wouldn't really want to invite one of them home for dinner would you. It could be worse - they could be vegetarian and eat tonnes of diced carrot and sweetcorn.
 

Members online

No members online now.

Forum statistics

Threads
20,062
Messages
204,455
Members
8,860
Latest member
pETH

Monty Awards

TONMOCON IV (2011): Terri
TONMOCON V (2013): Jean
TONMOCON VI (2015): Taollan
TONMOCON VII (2018): ekocak

About the Monty Awards
Top