Marine Biology

, Volume 145, Issue 5, pp 923–930 | Cite as

Egg-capsule deposition and how behavioral interactions influence spawning rate in the squid Loligo opalescens in Monterey Bay, California

  • R. T. HanlonEmail author
  • N. Kangas
  • J. W. Forsythe
Research Article


Recent evidence suggests that, contrary to what was believed previously, most Loligo spp. females spawn multiple times and do not die immediately following a single spawning event. The present study used sustained focal observations of male/female pairs of the opalescent inshore squid Loligo opalescens Berry to examine the structure and behavior of near-bottom spawning groups. The study was carried out in a small area (10 km2) of Monterey Bay, California (36°36.1′N; 121°53.4′W), at depths of 25–45 m, using video cameras mounted on remotely operated vehicles. Behavioral observations were made primarily during daylight hours over known spawning beds in April and November 2000, and August 2001. Squid formed large aggregations in the water column where pairing occurred. Most commonly, only small numbers of active spawners were found at the substrate depositing egg capsules, and the mean operational sex ratio in the spawning groups was 1.87 males:1 female (range=1.0–8.5), although the ratio fluctuated rapidly as roving lone males joined and departed from the small spawning groups. On average, females (n=40) deposited 2.67 capsules (range 2–7) per focal observation at an average interval of 8.47 min between depositions (n=67). Following deposition of the capsules, females broke away from their consort males and jetted upwards to rejoin large schools located many meters above the substrate. Egg-capsule deposition was often interrupted by lone males seeking a mate, or by the approach of predators including fish and marine mammals. The results suggest that most of the communal egg beds in southern Monterey Bay are built up slowly through daily intermittent spawning, not in large “big bang” reproductive events as often depicted for L. opalescens.


Large School Unpaired Male Spawning Group Consort Male Lone Male 
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We are most grateful for funding from the NOAA/NURP/National Undersea Research Center (West Coast) grant UAF 98 0037. Additional funding was provided by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Sholley Foundation. J.F. gratefully acknowledges financial support from the National Institutes of Health, National Center for Research Resources (grant P40 RR0102423-23) and the Marine Medicine General Budget account of the Marine Biomedical Institute. N.K. thanks the Academy of Finland for financial assistance. We thank S. Earle for loan of the Sustainable Seas ROV, and we appreciate the professional efforts of the Deep Ocean Exploration and Research (DOER) members who supported the ROV operations. Very special thanks are given to J. Rummel who helped begin this project and to B. Hobson who kept it going at a critical juncture. We are thankful for expert shipboard assistance from the captains and crew of the R.V. “John Martin” and the fishing vessel “Lady J” (especially Captain T. Noto). We benefited from discussions with B. Leos, B. Gilly, A. Henry, J. Butler, K. Buresch, T. Thys, and S. Houghton.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Marine Biological LaboratoryWoods HoleUSA
  2. 2.Marine Biomedical InstituteGalvestonUSA

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