Happy Halloween, ocean lovers! Today’s featured marine animal is one of the spookiest in the sea: the vampire squid.
This deep-sea cephalopod’s nickname comes from its dark color and red eyes. Although it’s only the size of a football, the vampire squid is a deadly predator – it catches food by drifting until it senses prey nearby.
Like many other deep-sea creatures, vampire squid can produce light, called bioluminescence, to avoid predators. They use a technique called “arm-writhing” to disorient predators, which have trouble following all the lights on their arms.
If a vampire squid is threatened, it can curl its webbed arms around its head to protect its most vulnerable parts and reveal the darker parts of its body. And here’s the kicker -- if the vampire squid does decide to flee, it can release a cloud of mucus that can glow for almost 10 minutes. Then, it uses a twisted escape route to confuse the predator even further.
The vampire squid has proportionally the largest eyes of any species—a six-inch squid’s eye is about an inch in diameter – the better to see you with, my dear. (Its relative, the giant squid, is the animal with the largest eyes of all, about the size of basketballs.)
Learn more about the vampire squid and other fascinating (and freaky) ocean animals at Oceana’s marine encyclopedia.
What ocean animal do you think is the spookiest? Tell us in the comments!
Guest blogger Jon Bowermaster is a writer and filmmaker. His most recent documentary is "SoLa, Louisiana Water Stories" and his most recent book is OCEANS, The Threats to the Sea and What You Can Do To Turn the Tide.
Typically at this time of year a certain breed of shopper purposefully wanders the fish stalls of their favorite grocer taking stock of the piles of fresh oysters carefully arranged on crushed ice or to pick up and judge the heft in their hands of tightly packed tins of caviar, which sell for anywhere from $50 to $2,000.
But maybe this is the year to lay off those two favored treats and replace them with something slightly less traditional: squid.
I know, a big bowl of calamari hardly compares to one of caviar… but, man, there’s a lot of squid out there these days. I’m sure some of those very popular sustainable fish chefs have already dreamed up some special calamari entrée to take advantage of the boom.
A moment of silence, please: Paul the oracle octopus, who confounded mathematicians and delighted World Cup fans (and cephalopod lovers) this summer, has died of natural causes at his home zoo in Germany.
The clever cephalopod correctly forecasted the outcome of eight World Cup soccer matches, including the final.
Will Paul’s successor prove to be as precocious? We’ll just have to wait and see...
Of the approximately 100 species of cuttlefish, the Australian giant cuttlefish is the largest cuttlefish in the world. They can grow almost five feet long and weigh almost 30 pounds.
The coolest thing about these colossal cephalopods is their ability to change color for a number of reasons, including aggression, excitement, camouflage, or mating. They can change color so effectively that they can become almost entirely invisible when hiding among rocks and in caves. When they want to be noticed, they can put on a brilliant display of colors and flashes, particularly during the winter mating season.