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Onychoteuthis compacta (Berry, 1913)

Michael Vecchione, Richard E. Young, and Kotaro Tsuchiya
Containing group: Onychoteuthis


O. compacta appears to be the most common of the three species of Onychoteuthis found in Hawaiian waters. It is most easily identified by characteristics of its pigment pattern. Juveniles and subadults have a distinctive region on the posteroventral surface of the mantle that lacks chromatophores.


  1. Tentacular club
    1. Club without marginal suckers in subadults.
    2. Distal 4 or 5? fully-formed hooks in ventral series with spikes (see arrow) that protrude through the skin.
       image info  image info

      Figure. Oral views of tentacular club of O. compacta. Top - Original drawing by Keiko Hiratsuka Moore, National Marine Fisheries Service. Distal portion of club showing hook spikes (arrow), preserved. Photograph by R. Young.

      Scanning electron micrographs of the hooks can be seen here.

  2. Mantle pigmentation
    1. Triangular-shaped region on the postero-ventral mantle lacks chromatophores.
       image info

      Figure. Ventrolateral view of the mantle of O. compacta, preserved, showing pigmentation, Hawaiian waters. Photograph by R. Young.


Additional features of the description can be found here.

Life History

Paralarvae of O. compacta are easily identified by the arrangement of their chromatophores. At 3-4 mm GL: A simple band (i.e., a single, straight line) of chromatophores is present along the free ventral margin of the mantle; a group of chromatophores is situated well posteriorly on the ventral mantle and two large chromatophores are located ventrally opposite the fins. At 6 mm GL: Two pairs of chromatophores are present on the ventral mantle adjacent to the fins. A small patch of chromatophores is present dorsally at the posterior convergence of the fins. At 9 mm GL: Two parallel rows of small chromatophores are located dorsally stradling the midline of the mantle. At 12-16 mm ML: Chromatophore numbers increase dramatically. At 18 mm ML: The subadult chromatophore pattern can be recognized.

 image info

Figure. Ventral and dorsal views of paralarval and juvenile O. compacta. A - 2.3 mm GL. B - Ventral view of a common condition in this species: head retracted within the mantle cavity, 4.8 mm GL. C - 4.1 mm GL. D - 8.9 mm GL. E - 18.5 mm GL. The bar is 1 mm. Drawings from Young and Harman (1985).


Berry, S. S. 1913. Some new Hawaiian cephalopods. Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus. 45: 563-566.

Kubodera, T., U. Piakowski, T. Okutani and M. R. Clarke. 1998 Taxonomy and zoogeography of the family Onychoteuthidae. Smiths. Contr. to Zoology, No. 585: 277-291.

Young, R. E. and R. Harman. 1985. Descriptions of the larvae of three species of the Onychoteuthis banksii complex from Hawaiian waters. The Veliger, 29: 313-321.

Title Illustrations
Scientific Name Onychoteuthis compacta
Location Hawaiian waters
Creator Keiko Hiratsuka Moore
Acknowledgements National Marine Fisheries Service
View Ventra, dorsal
Copyright ©
Scientific Name Onychoteuthis compacta
Location Hawaiian waters
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
View Dorsal
Copyright © M. Seki
About This Page

National Marine Fisheries Service
Systematics Laboratory
National Museum of Natural History
Washington, D. C. 20560

Richard E. Young

Dept of Oceanography
University of Hawaii
Honolulu, Hawaii 96822

Tokyo University of Fisheries, Konan, Minato, Tokyo

Citing this page:

Vecchione, Michael, Young, Richard E., and Tsuchiya, Kotaro. 2003. Onychoteuthis compacta (Berry, 1913). Version 23 June 2003 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Onychoteuthis_compacta/19964/2003.06.23 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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Onychoteuthis compacta

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