Abstract: European flying squid, Todarodes sagittatus occurs in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean from Iceland, the Barents and Kara Seas southward to Guinea, and westward to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
It is a nerito-oceanic species inhabiting mostly slope waters from surface down to >1000 m but also occurs on the shelf and in the open ocean. There are at least three populations – a migratory Northeast Atlantic population that reproduces at the mid-Atlantic ridge and forages as far north as off Iceland and Norway, and resident Mediterranean and Northwest African populations. Spawning takes place on the continental slope and around seamounts with peak in cold season. It is intermittent, females produce from 200,000 to >2,000,000 eggs of 1.1-1.2 mm. Juveniles disperse in surface waters carrying out diel vertical migrations. As they grow and mature, the animals switch to demersal life style gradually moving deeper down the slope. The species has an annual life cycle with some animals in northern waters living slightly more than one year.
It is an omnivorous predator and its feeding spectra mirror the micro- and mesonekton composition, diversity, and abundance in pelagic waters.
Generally the squid feeds on fishes, crustaceans and cephalopods in decreasing order of importance. T.sagittatus is preyed upon by a variety of cetaceans, seabirds, elasmobranchs and teleost fishes, the most important predators are swordfish and pilot whales. It is an important paratenic host for anisakid nematodes with intensity of infestation reaching 20-75%.
T. sagittatus is taken as bycatch throughout the species range with no major fishing areas existing nowadays, but it has occasionally occurred in Norway and off Northwest
Africa in sufficiently large numbers to support a target fishery yielding 10,000-20,000 t per annum. Stocks were not assessed though its annual consumption by predators might be roughly estimated as 2-3 million t.