Hoving, Hendrik J. T., Zeidberg, Louis D., Benfield, Mark C., Bush, Stephanie L., Robison, Bruce H. and Vecchione, Michael
The deep-sea squid Grimalditeuthis bonplandi has tentacles unique among known squids. The elastic stalk is extremely thin and fragile, whereas the clubs bear no suckers, hooks or photophores. It is unknown whether and how these tentacles are used in prey capture and handling. We present, to our knowledge, the first in situ observations of this species obtained by remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) in the Atlantic and North Pacific. Unexpectedly, G. bonplandi is unable to rapidly extend and retract the tentacle stalk as do other squids, but instead manoeuvres the tentacles by undulation and flapping of the clubs' trabecular protective membranes. These tentacle club movements superficially resemble the movements of small marine organisms and suggest the possibility that G. bonplandi uses aggressive mimicry by the tentacle clubs to lure prey, which we find to consist of crustaceans and cephalopods. In the darkness of the meso-and bathypelagic zones the flapping and undulatory movements of the tentacle may: (i) stimulate bioluminescence in the surrounding water, (ii) create low-frequency vibrations and/or (iii) produce a hydrodynamic wake. Potential prey of G. bonplandi may be attracted to one or more of these as signals. This singular use of the tentacle adds to the diverse foraging and feeding strategies known in deep-sea cephalopods.