AUCKLAND, New Zealand -- New Zealand scientist Dr Steve O’Shea, well known for his study of giant squid, is attempting to break his own world record for keeping deep sea squid alive in captivity, as a warm up to his goal of one day raising a giant squid in a tank.
He is rearing broad squid, Sepioteuthis australis, and has set up SQUIDCAM – a movable web-cam which operates 24/7 - so that enthusiasts around the world can monitor his progress. Earlier attempts in 2000 saw him reach the 150-day mark for one squid species which lives at 300-metres below sea level.
“The broad squid is very difficult to rear in captivity due to its 3mm size on hatching and the complex changes in diet over the first 60 days of life, but it brings me one step closer to the end game - growing giant squid,” says O’Shea
Deep-sea squid are voracious hunters, consuming their own body mass each day and eating prey one-to-one-and-a-half times their size. In their short life span they eat 10 different prey types, and for the first 120 days of their life they’ll only eat live food – which has to be caught every day.
“So far we have a 95 per cent success rate, which is almost unheard of, even for other species that have been reared in captivity,” he adds.
He says the site will appeal to budding scientists through to squid specialists, citing earlier success with the 2005 SQUIDCAM which attracted 4,000 visitors in the first month alone, and hopes it will highlight the plight of endangered animals to thousands around the world.
“The end game is to improve our understanding of these deep sea creatures, and how to keep them alive in captivity, so that we can all experience some of the more exotic, bizarre and fantastic squid that frequent our waters,” says O’Shea. O’Shea collected the squid egg masses from seaweed in the Hauraki Gulf, near Auckland and is rearing them in a tank, which is located at AUT University’s Earth & Oceanic Sciences Research Institute. A Canadian documentary team has tracked his progress to date and this world-record breaking attempt will appear in a documentary series this year.
To view squid visit: http://www.aut.ac.nz/research/research-institutes/eos/whats-new/squidcam
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