Here, we report on different types of shell pathologies of the enigmatic deep-sea (mesopelagic) cephalopod Spirula spirula. For the first time, we apply non-invasive imaging methods to: document trauma-induced changes in shell shapes, reconstruct the different causes and effects of these pathologies, unravel the etiology, and attempt to quantify the efficiency of the buoyancy apparatus. We have analysed 2D and 3D shell parameters from eleven shells collected as beach findings from the Canary Islands (Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura), West-Australia, and the Maldives. All shells were scanned with a nanotom-m computer tomograph. Seven shells were likely injured by predator attacks: fishes, cephalopods or crustaceans, one specimen was infested by an endoparasite (potentially Digenea) and one shell shows signs of inflammation and one shell shows large fluctuations of chamber volumes without any signs of pathology. These fluctuations are potential indicators of a stressed environment. Pathological shells represent the most deviant morphologies of a single species and can therefore be regarded as morphological end-members. The changes in the shell volume / chamber volume ratio were assessed in order to evaluate the functional
tolerance of the buoyancy apparatus showing that these had little effect.
Key words: pathology; parasitism; Spirula; mesopelagic; ecology; predator; buoyancy; cephalopods