Māori Name: Wheketere
Name Scientific: Nototodarus spp, N.gouldi, N.sloanii
Availability: Main season December to May, but available year-round
Attributes Weight: 0.1 - 1.3 kg
Attributes Length: 20–35cm
They are pelagic species found over the continental shelf from the surface waters to the bottom at depths of up to 500 metres. They tend to concentrate in areas of up-welling and oceanic convergence. N. gouldi occurs in the warmer waters around the North Island and the northwestern South Island, while the more predominant N. sloanii is present along the southeast coast of the South Island and in southern waters. Similar species are found around southeast Australia, Fiji, the Philippines, and South Africa.
Arrow squid are white with bronze tones on the mantle and head with black eyes. There are two arrow squid species that are not differentiated at harvest—N. gouldi and N. sloanii. Both species have smooth cylindrical bodies and short, pointed tail fins. Males have tubercles as well as suckers on their ventral arms. The ivory-coloured meat, covered by a speckled membrane, is firm, tender and shiny.
N. gouldi and N. sloanii belong to the Ommastrephidae family (arrow squids).
Evidence suggests that both species live for about 18 months and spawn once before dying.
The New Zealand squid fishery began in the late 1970s and reached a peak in the early 1980s when squid jigging vessels came to fish seasonally in the NZ Exclusive Economic Zone. Most squid are now taken by a New Zealand-based trawl fleet. The two species of arrow squid are quite short-lived after a year, they spawn and then die and abundance is highly variable between years.
In New Zealand waters, both species are caught on the edge of the continental shelf, usually by jigging or trawling.
Did You Know
Arrow squids are two of over 80 squid species found in New Zealand waters. Their relative the giant squid, at around 12 metres from tail to tentacle tip, is 12 times their length.
Arrow squid has dense ivory-coloured flesh which whitens on cooking. Wash thoroughly and remove quill (bone) and skin. The ink can be retained as an ingredient also. If using frozen squid, cook from frozen rather than allowing to thaw. Arrow squid can be baked, barbequed, grilled or fried. Take care with cooking times, as the texture of squid can become rubbery and tough. Either cook quickly over a high heat (30 seconds to a minute if cut into pieces), deep fry for 2-3 minutes, or alternatively, slow cook for at least 20 minutes.
When buying whole arrow squid with skin on, look for pinkish mottled skin and no damage. Arrow squid should be kept as close to zero degrees as possible - transfer to the refrigerator as soon as you can after purchase and if possible, pack on ice while transporting home.