Deep-sea squid

(Bathyteuthis sp.)

This mom is a pelagic parent.

Female squids of most species reproduce by depositing egg cases on the seafloor or releasing eggs in a gelatinous mass that drifts in open water. While exploring the depths of Monterey Bay in 2005, MBARI researchers encountered a female deep-sea squid (Bathyteuthis berryi) carrying a sheet of eggs in her arms.

Brooding is common among bottom-dwelling octopuses, but scientists have only observed this behavior in three squid species, all found in the deep sea. Scientists think this type of parental care helps a mother squid improve her hatchlings’ chances for survival. MBARI researchers suspect other deep-dwelling squids may also be brooders.

The deep sea is challenging to study, and we only get brief glimpses into the behaviors of deep-sea animals. MBARI’s archive of thousands of hours of underwater video has helped illuminate life in the largest living space on Earth. MBARI researchers can document remarkable new species and observe how deep-sea animals feed, escape predators, and reproduce. Each observation logged by our ROVs provides another piece to the puzzle and helps improve our understanding of life in the ocean’s mysterious depths. 

Fast FactsThe deep-sea squid Bathyteuthis bacidifera

Maximum size: mantle length to 7.5 centimeters (3 inches)

Depth: 600–2,000 meters (2,000–6,600 feet)

Habitat: midwater, twilight (mesopelagic) and midnight (bathypelagic) zones

Range: worldwide

Diet: krill

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Research publications

Bush, S.L., H.J.T. Hoving, C.L. Huffard, B.H. Robison, and L.D. Zeidberg (2012). Brooding and sperm storage by the deep-sea squid Bathyteuthis berryi (Cephalopoda: Decapodiformes). Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 92(7):1629-1636. doi.org/10.1017/S0025315411002165

Bush, S.L. and B.H. Robison (2007). Ink utilization by mesopelagic squid. Marine Biology, 152: 485-494. doi.org/10.1007/s00227-007-0684-2 

Robison, B.H., K.R. Reisenbichler, and R.E. Sherlock (2017). The coevolution of midwater research and ROV technology at MBARI. Oceanography, 30(4): 26-37. doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2017.421

Seibel, B.A., S.K. Goffredi, E.V. Thuesen, J.J. Childress, and B.H. Robison (2004). Ammonium content and buoyancy in midwater cephalopods. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 313(2): 375-387. doi.org/10.1016/j.jembe.2004.08.015

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