Australian Biological Resources Study

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Nototodarus gouldi (Family Ommastrephidae)

Arrow Squid, Red Arrow Squid


Southern Australia (from central Western Australia to southern Queensland) and east to northern New Zealand (QLD, NSW, VIC, TAS, SA, WA).


A large muscular squid that reaches more than 50 cm in length. It has a pair of wide triangular fins at the rear of the body. It has eight arms and two extendable feeding tentacles. The arms and tips of the feeding tentacles have suckers armed with a horny, toothed rim. The third arm pair has a wide ridge along their outer edges. The shell is a thin transparent feather-shaped structure. The colour is generally dark red-brown often with a dark stripe down the middle of the upper body. The skin is smooth.

Ecology/Way of Life:

This fast muscular squid occurs in coastal and offshore waters where it can form large schools. Members of this family are known as "flying squids" as they can glide for short distances through the air as a means of escaping predators. The wide fins and the edges off the third arms are used to glide through the air. They are mainly active at night, feeding on fish and crustaceans. This squid is consumed by seals, blue sharks and other large fish such as barracouta.

Mating and spawning have not been observed. As for other members of this family, it is likely that the eggs are released as a large floating transparent mass of mucous. The hatchlings of this squid look very different to the adult. They are known as rhynchoteuthion larvae (figure). They lack feeding tentacles and the arms are fused into a tube rimmed by suckers. It is not known how this tube is used to feed or the nature of the prey.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

This squid is harvested in commercial jig and trawl fisheries in eastern and southern Australia, as well as in northern New Zealand. Exploratory jig fishing by the Japanese and Koreans in the 1970's and 1980's caught yearly catches of up to 9,000 tonnes off southern Australia. Today smaller scale operations in the region catch up to 2,000 tonnes annually. Most of the catch is prepared as calamari rings.

Further Reading:

Australian Fisheries Management Authority website (go to "Southern Squid Jig Fishery")


Text & map by Mark Norman; photographs by Mark Norman and K Hollis.

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