Age determination in squid using statolith growth increments
Growth increments have been reported to occur in the squid beak, radula, gladius and statolith. Of these, the statolith, which is part of the organ responsible for detection of linear and angular acceleration, has proved most promising for age determination. Growth increments in the statolith are formed from aragonite crystals in an organic matrix. They are best viewed after sectioning the statolith or after decalcification in weak acid. The statolith grows in concert with the rest of the squid. Experiments with squid in which chemical markers have been incorporated at a known time in the statolith, and experiments with cultured squid of known age, appear to confirm the hypothesis that growth increments in the statolith are laid down daily. Increments are produced in the laboratory in the absence of tidal, feeding or temperature cycles, which suggests that there is a firmly entrained endogenous circadian rhythm associated with their formation. However, the possibility that increment formation can be disrupted by environmental factors, or that rings in the statolith are produced coincidentally at the rate of approximately one per day, should not be fully discounted without further experimental corroboration. Data on squid age, derived from growth increments in the statolith, clearly have value in fisheries investigations, but they should be treated with caution until they have been validated.