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Starvation resulting from failure to feed successfully after absorption of the yolk reserves has been proposed to be a major source of pre-recruitment mortality in squids. To test this hypothesis, methods must be developed to determine whether paralarvae have fed successfully at sea.
When paralarvae are stained with Alcian Blue and then cleared with trypsin, the entire digestive tract can be examined intact for the presence of food. This method was used for Abralia trigonura and Sthenoteuthis oualaniensis paralarvae from Hawaiian waters. Approximately 9%
of the former and 16% of the latter contained recognizable food material, mostly crustacean fragments. Food was found in the stomach, caecum, and intestine. The smallest specimen of A. trigonura with recognizable food in its digestive tract was 2.2 mm dorsal mantle length (DML), while
for S. oualaniensis the smallest was 5.2 mm DML. The method is also useful for visualizing the ontogeny of the digestive-tract organs, beaks and radula, and other organs such as statocysts and eyes.
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