a1 Department of Zoology, University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester, LE1 7RH
a2 Institute of Oceanographic Sciences Deacon Laboratory, Wormley, Godalming, Surrey, GU8 5UB
The anatomy of the eyes of several species of mesopelagic decapods (family Oplophoridae), obtained from the eastern north Atlantic, is described and related to the unique light environment of the deep seas. The oplophorid eyes are of the reflecting superposition type, but they show a number of regional morphological variations. The main rhabdom, formed by retinula cells Rl to R7, comes in a variety of shapes, from fusiform rhabdoms in the dorsal region of the eyes of Oplophorus spinosus to multi-lobed interdigitating rhabdoms in deepwater species. The distal rhabdom, contributed to each ommatidium by retinula cell R8, gradually increases in size towards the ventral part of the eye in Systellaspis debilis and O. spinosus. Histological examination of the tapetum shows that it is incomplete dorsally in some species from the upper mesopelagic zone (S. debilis, O. spinosus), and that the amount of reflecting pigment in the tapetal cells increases in the ventral part of the eye. The tapetum is complete in some deep-water species (Systellaspis cristata, Acanthephyra kingsleyi, A. pelagica). These adaptations of the rhabdoms and tapeta are thought to be concerned with increased sensitivity to the dim up-welling irradiance and to bioluminescence. A dorsal accessory compound eye consisting of a small group of apparently functional apposition-type ommatidia is described.