Social Behaviour of Individual Oval Squids (Cephalopoda, Teuthoidea, Loliginidae, Sepioteuthis lessoniana) within a Captive School


Marine Biomedical Institute, University of Texas Medical Branch, 301 University Boulevard, Galveston, TX 77555–1163, USA. E-mail:


The social behaviour of individually identified squids was observed over a period of 4 mo. Squids were reared in captivity and maintained in a shoal of up to 18 animals. Distances between animals averaged 1.6 body lengths, similar to the 1.2 body lengths of wild teleost fish schools. Smaller animals schooled less frequently and were found at the periphery, and familiar and unfamiliar animals shoaled together. Eighty-six apparent reproductive events were observed. This species of squid, Sepioteuthis lessoniana, is not sexually dimorphic to the human eye and male squids copulated with both males and females but they directed their attention disproportionately towards females. Most copulations occurred more than a month before spawning, lasted only a few seconds and, unlike field observations on spawning grounds, were not followed by mate-guarding. Two body patterns are described that were used consistently in social interactions by both males and females; these patterns were both associated with reproductive behaviour but their exact function was unclear. A sister species, Sepioteuthis sepioidea, has been described as showing complex social behaviour; in S. lessoniana, no evidence for such behaviour was seen.