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Giant Squid and Colossal Squid Fact Sheet (page 2 of 2)

By Dr. Steve O'Shea -- Last updated: 5/6/03

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Kondakovia longimana Filippova, 1972 (Fig. 10)
Vernacular: Giant Warty Squid; Longarm Octopus Squid

Fig. 10: Kondakovia longimana, post mortem.

Kondakovia longimana is one of two squid known to reach giant size in the Antarctic (the other being Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni). It is a major prey species for sperm whales (second largest food source by weight, with annual consumption estimated at 2.10 x 106 tonnes) (Roper et al. 1985). It is also the largest squid preyed upon by albatross and increases in their dietary importance with increasing latitude / decreasing temperature (Imber 1992). It has been captured in nets from 0 to 50 m depth, but most specimens have been taken from the stomachs of sperm whales caught over water depths in excess of 2000 m (Roper et al. 1985).

It is possible that the first reported specimens of this species are different from any specimen subsequently referred to this species (that is to say, several species may be presently confused as one). The group is in need of immediate systematic revision.

Diagnosis: ML to 850 (probably 1150+) mm. Skin of mantle, head and proximal portions of arms and fins with fleshy longitudinal ridges. Nuchal folds and photophores absent. Arms shorter than (70–80% of) mantle. Tentacles short, 100–120% ML. Tentacle club manus with 17–19 pairs of hooks and always two complete rows of marginal suckers. Tentacular hooks with broad lateral blades forming a V-shaped ridge across claw distally and two interior lobes visible orally through aperture.

Number of adult specimens known (reported) : Five. Vacchi et al. (1994) reported some of the measures and indices of one adult female specimen (ML 670 mm) from Terra Nova Bay (Ross Sea), which was found alive, kept in captivity until its death, and then preserved. Three other adult females (material from the National Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa) are presently being described (Bolstad in prep.). The only known male specimen in good condition lacked tentacles (Clarke 1980).

This species was originally described based on three immature females (ML 260 mm, 210 mm, and 133 mm) (Filippova 1972). Although at least 12 relatively intact adult specimens have been recovered from sperm whale stomachs (Clarke 1980), no detailed descriptions are available. Many partial specimens (beaks, arm crowns) have also been recovered from predator stomachs.

Recognised distribution: Circumantarctic, although reported as far north as South Georgia and the Tasman Sea (see records based on long-distance foraging marine predator stomach contents overpage). Several beaks similar to K. longimana have also been reported from sperm whales caught off Iceland (Martin & Clarke 1986), but Clarke et al. later (1993) reattributed these beaks to Megalocranchia.

Diet: Stomach content analyses reveal euphausiid shrimp (krill) as the main prey of Kondakovia. Most in-situ-captured specimens have accordingly been recovered from localities with very high concentrations of krill. Filippova (1972) also suggests that the 'peculiar body proportions, looseness of the tissues and a moderate size of radula [rasping tongue] with very minute teeth... [are] indicative of a form adapted to feed upon macrozooplankton'.

Predators: Several species of toothed whale (Clarke & Macleod 1982, Martin & Clarke 1986, Nemoto et al.1988, Clarke & Goodall 1994), seal (Goldsworthy et al. 2001), penguin (Offredo et al. 1985, Adams & Klages 1987, Ballance et al. 2001, Goldsworthy et al. 2001, Piatkowski et al. 2001), albatross (Imber & Russ 1975, Imber 1992, van den Hoff 2001, Xavier et al. 2003), petrel (Nel et al. 2000, Ballance et al. 2001, Goldsworthy et al. 2001), bony fish (Goldsworthy et al. 2002, Cherel et al. 2004), and shark (Cherel & Duhamel 2004).

Reproduction : Unknown.

Kondakovia lacks a hectocotylus (the specialised arm used to transfer spermatophores to the female), and if it is anything like the closely related Moroteuthis ingens, will have a relatively large penis. Moroteuthis ingens uses its penis to directly plunge spermatophores through the female's mantle, inserting them near the base of her gill. The exact method of reproduction in Kondakovia is unknown.

New Zealand specimens (trawled): None.

New Zealand reports based on analysis of stomach contents of long-distance foraging marine predators (whales, albatross): 5. Beaks attributed to this species have similarly been encountered in stomachs of sperm whales caught in or proximal to northernmost eastern and western New Zealand waters (Clarke & MacLeod 1982), and from one stranded specimen on Paekakariki Beach (Clarke & Roper 1998). They are also reported from wandering albatross chick regurgitations from the southern New Zealand Auckland and Antipodes , and Australian Macquarie Islands (Imber 1992). However, despite these five citations from or proximal to local waters, none of them confirms that the species occurs here, for the same reasons as discussed for Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni.

Kondakovia, like Mesonychoteuthis, could occur in southernmost New Zealand waters.

Closest record (unreported): Unknown.

Publication : In an international journal, probably by mid 2004 (submission date).


Adams, N.J. ; Klages, N.T. 1987. Seasonal variation in the diet of the king penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) at sub-Antarctic Marion Island. Journal of Zoology (London) 212: 303–324.

Ballance, L.T.; Ainley, D.G.; Hunt, G.L. Jr. 2001. Seabird Foraging Ecology. In: Steele, J.H.; Thorpe , S.A. ; Turekian, A.A. (eds). Encyclopedia of Ocean Sciences vol. 5. Academic Press, London . 2636–2644.

Cherel, Y.; Duhamel, G. 2004. Antarctic jaws: cephalopod prey of sharks in the Kerguelen waters. Deep-Sea Research I 51: 17–31.

Cherel, Y.; Duhamel, G.; Gasco, N. 2004. Cephalopod fauna of subantarctic islands: new information from predators. Marine Ecology Progress Series 266: 143–156.

Clarke, M.R. 1972. New technique for the study of sperm whale migration. Nature 238: 405–406.

Clarke, M.R. 1980. Cephalopoda in the diet of sperm whales of the southern hemisphere and their bearing on sperm whale biology. Discovery Reports 37: 1-324.

Clarke, M.R. ( ed .). 1986. A handbook for the identification of cephalopod beaks. Clarendon Press, Oxford : 1-273.

Clarke, M.R.; Goodall, N. 1994. Cephalopods in the diet of three odontocete cetacean species stranded at Tierra del Fuego, Globi cephalia melaena (Traill, 1809), Hyperoodon planifrons Flower, 1882 [sic], and Cephalorhynchus commersonii (Lacepede, 1804). Antarctic Science 6(2): 149–154.

Clarke, M.R.; Martins, H.R.; Pascoe, P. 1993. The diet of sperm whales (Physeter macro cephalus Linnaeus 1758) off the Azores. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B 339: 67–82.

Clarke, M.R.; MacLeod, N. 1982. Cephalopod remains from the stomachs of sperm whales caught in the Tasman Sea . Memoirs of the National Museum Victoria, 43:25–42.

Clarke, M.R.; Roper, C.F.E. 1998. Cephalopods represented by beaks in the stomach of a sperm whale stranded at Paekakariki, North Island, New Zealand . South African Journal of Marine Science, 20: 129–133.

Filippova, J.A. 1972. New data on the squids (Cephalopoda: Oegopsida) from the Scotia Sea (Antarctic). Malacologia 11(2): 391-406.

Fiscus, C.H.; Rice, D.W.; Wolman, A.A. 1989. Cephalopods from the stomachs of sperm whales taken off California . NOAA Technical Report NMFS 83: 1–12.

Goldsworthy, S.D.; He, X.; Tuck, G.N.; Lewis, M.; Williams, R. 2001. Trophic interactions between the Patagonian toothfish, its fishery, and seals and seabirds around Macquarie Island. Marine Ecology Progress Series 218: 283–302.

Goldsworthy, S.D. ; Lewis, M.; Williams, R.; He, X.; Young, J.W.; van den Hoff, J. 2002. Diet of Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) around Macquarie Island, South Pacific Ocean. Marine and Freshwater Research 53: 49–57.

Imber, M.J. 1978. The squid families Cranchiidae and Gonatidae (Cephalopoda: Teuthoidea) in the New Zealand region. New Zealand Journal of Zoology, 5: 445–484.

Imber, M.J. 1992. Cephalopods eaten by wandering albatrosses (Diomedia exulans L.) breeding at six circumpolar localities. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand , 22(4) : 243–263.

Imber, M.J.; Russ, R.R. 1975. Some foods of the wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans). New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs Wildlife Publication No. 174 22(1): 27–36.

Jouventin, P.; Weimerskirch, H. 1990. Satellite tracking of wandering albatrosses. Nature 343: 746–747.

Kirk, T.W. 1887. Brief description of a new species of large decapod (Architeuthis longimanus) . Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 20: 34–39 + 3 Pls.

Kubodera, T.; Piatkowski, U.; Okutani, T. & Clarke, M.R. 1998. Taxonomy and Zoogeography of the Family Onychoteuthidae (Cephalopoda: Oegopsida). Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 586(2): 277-291.

Martin, A.R.; Clarke, M.R. 1986. The Diet of Sperm Whales (Physeter catodon) Captured Between Iceland and Greenland . Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom . 66: 779–790.

Nel, D.C.; Nel, J.L.; Ryan, P.G.; Klages, N.T.W.; Wilson, R.; Robertson, G. 2000. Foraging ecology of grey-headed mollymawks at Marion Island , southern Indian Ocean, in relation to longline fishing activity. Biological Conservation 96: 219–231.

Nemoto, T.; Okiyama, M.; Iwasaki, N.; Kikuchi, T. 1988. Squid as predators on krill (Euphausia superba) and prey for sperm whales in the Southern Ocean. In: Sahrhage, D. (ed.) 1988. Antarctic Ocean and resources variability . Berlin : Springer-Verlag 292–296.

Nesis, K.N. 1987. Cephalopods of the world (English translation). Tropical Fish Hobbyist (T.F.H.) publications, Neptune City. 1-352.

Offredo, C.; Ridoux, V.; Clarke, M.R. 1985. Cephalopods in the diets of Emperor and Adelie penguins in Adelie Land, Antarctica. Marine Biology 86: 199–202.

O'Shea, S. 1997. Status of three Octopoda recorded from New Zealand, based on beaks recovered from long-distance foraging marine predators. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 24: 265–266.

Piatkowski, U.; Heinemann, H.; Pütz, K. 2001. Cephalopod prey of king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) breeding at Volunteer Beach, Falkland Islands, during austral winter 1996. Fisheries Research. 52: 79–90.

Robson, G.C. 1925. On Mesonychoteuthis, a new genus of oegopsid, Cephalopoda. Annals and Magazine of Natural History, Series 9, 16: 272-277.

Rodhouse, P.G.; Clarke, M.R. 1985. Growth and distribution of young Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni Robson (Mollusca: Cephalopoda): an Antarctic squid. Vie Milieu 35(3/4): 223–230.

Roper, C.F.E.; Sweeney, M.J.; Clarke, M.R. 1985. Cephalopoda. FAO Species Identification Sheets for Fishery Purposes 1:117-205.

Vacchi, M.; Greco, S; La Mesa, M. 1994. Kondakovia longimana Filippova, 1972 (Cephalopoda: Onychoteuthidae) from Terra Nova bay, Ross Sea. In: Rodhouse, P. G., Piatkowski, U. & Lu, C.C. (eds.) 1994. Southern Ocean cephalopods: life cycles and populations. Antarctic Science 6: 283.

Van den Hoff, J. 2001. Further observations on the cephalopod diet of Wandering Albatrosses (Diomedea exulans L.) at Macquarie Island . Emu 101: 169–172.

Voss, N.A. 1980. A generic revision of the Cranchiidae (Cephalopoda: Oegopsida). Bulletin of Marine Science, 30(2): 365–412.

Xavier, J.C.; Croxall, J.P.; Tratham, P.N.; Wood, A.G. 2003. Feeding strategies and diets of breeding grey-headed and wandering albatrosses at South Georgia. Marine Biology 143: 221–232.


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