Snow: Aside from it being beautiful and peaceful, it’s widely celebrated by children and adults alike for building snowmen, sledding, and perhaps receiving a few “snow days.” As we move further into winter and many regions begin to see increased snowfall, did you know that the oceans have their own type of snow—one that falls all year?
When you hear about marine life in the Gulf of Mexico, your first thoughts probably turn to sea turtles, shellfish, and brown pelicans. The Gulf is, of course, much richer in biodiversity than that short list, and home to other species like whale sharks and manatees. But, one research program is looking beyond these charismatic species of the Gulf, and recently captured unprecedented footage of marine life near some of the Gulf’s less-well-known habitat like caves and deep sea corals.
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!