Hawaiian Bobtail Squid - Oceana

Cephalopods, Crustaceans, & Other Shellfish

Hawaiian Bobtail Squid

Euprymna scolopes


Pacific Ocean around the Hawaiian Islands


Warm, shallow coastal waters

Feeding Habits

Ambush predator


Order Sepiolida, Genus Euprymna (bobtail squids)


The squid is a “sit and wait” predator, burying itself in the sand with its eight suckered arms and two tentacles to wait for prey to pass by. They then strike with their tentacles to capture their prey. If they happen to miss their target, the animal will bury itself back in the sand to wait for the next opportunity.1 Their primary diet is typically smaller shrimp and crustaceans.

They hunt from dusk until dawn, when they are usually most active. When not hunting, the Hawaiian bobtail squid will bury itself in the sand to hide from predators. They also have a small squid sac through which they can release a small amount of ink to try and distract the predator. Some known predators of the Hawaiian bobtail squid are the Hawaiian monk seal and the lizardfish.2

The Hawaiian bobtail squid has a bioluminescent light organ inside their mantle cavity, which provides light enough for the squid to hunt at night.1 The organ functions with the help of a symbiotic bacteria known as Vibrio fischeri, and the light is a result of the interaction between the bacteria and the squid’s bioluminescent organ in the squid’s mantle cavity.2

Fun Facts About Hawaiian Bobtail Squids

1. They are nocturnal animals, spending most of the day buried in the sand.

2. Hawaiian bobtail squids have unique paddle shaped fins that help them swim.

3. The bioluminescent symbiotic relationship between the squids and bacteria is being studied by researchers, focusing on immune and developmental signals associated with beneficial animal-bacterial interactions.3

4. The Hawaiian bobtail squid only live about 2-3 months in the wild.1

5. The bacteria Vibrio fischeri can glow on its own, but not as brightly as when inside the Hawaiian bobtail squid.

Engage Youth with Sailors for the Sea

Oceana joined forces with Sailors for the Sea, an ocean conservation organization dedicated to educating and engaging the world’s boating community. Sailors for the Sea developed the KELP (Kids Environmental Lesson Plans) program to create the next generation of ocean stewards. Click here or below to download hands-on marine science activities for kids.

Kids Environmental Lesson Plans

Additional Resources:

1. Animal Diversity Web

2. University of Wisconsin