Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom

Research Article

Slow pace of life of the Antarctic colossal squid

Rui Rosaa1 c1 and Brad A. Seibela2

a1 Laboratório Marítimo da Guia, Centro de Oceanografia, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Avenida Nossa Senhora do Cabo, 939, 2750-374 Cascais, Portugal

a2 Department of Biological Sciences, University of Rhode Island, 100 Flagg Road, Kingston, RI 02881, USA

Abstract

The colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni) is the world's largest invertebrate and its large size and some unique morphological characters have fuelled speculation that it is an aggressive top predator in the circum-Antarctic Southern Ocean. Here, we present estimates on the metabolic and energetic demands of this cold-water deep-sea giant. The estimated mass-specific routine metabolic rate for the colossal squid at 1.5°C was 0.036 µmol O2 h−1 g−1 and the projected daily energy consumption (45.1 kcal day−1) was almost constant as a function of depth in the nearly isothermal Antarctic waters. Our findings also indicate the squid shows a slow pace of life linked with very low prey requirements (only 0.03 kg of prey per day). We argue that the colossal squid is not a voracious predator capable of high-speed predator–prey interactions. It is, rather, an ambush or sit-and-float predator that uses the hooks on its arms and tentacles to ensnare prey that unwittingly approach.

(Received July 22 2009)

(Accepted October 22 2009)

(Online publication April 20 2010)

Correspondence:

c1 Correspondence should be addressed to: R. Rosa, Laboratório Marítimo da Guia, Centro de Oceanografia, Faculdade de Ciências da, Universidade de Lisboa, Avenida Nossa Senhora do Cabo, 939, 2750-374 Cascais, Portugal email: rrosa@fc.ul.pt