Bringing You Behind the Scenes: A Look Inside Our “Tentacles” Laboratory

Ever wonder how you raise a baby squid? No one knows for sure, but if you’re Aquarist Chris Payne, you start with a trip to the hardware store for these unlikely ingredients: fishing line, plastic ties and Super Glue.

“The eggs need to be suspended in water, just like they are in the wild,” Chris says of cultivating bigfin reef squid (Sepioteuthis lessoniana) eggs. He explains that these squid attach their eggs to rocks or corals—anywhere they can be hidden. To replicate this behind the scenes, our aquarists rig up cool contraptions like this one—an inventive way of hanging the eggs in order for them to hatch. 

The aquarists cleverly use monofilament line to sew through the tips of the pods, or “fingers,” gather them in small clusters, then suspend them using plastic ties. But other methods work, too. “It doesn’t matter how you hang them. We’ve even Super-Glued them to a solid structure hanging just below the surface of the water,” Chris says. 

We’re currently raising about 300 pods, each containing two to six embryos. Suspending the eggs also allows aquarists to observe their growth. “You can actually see the embryo developing inside,” Chris says. The eggs grow in the three-inch pods for two to three weeks, and swell in size before hatching out. The squid are barely a quarter-inch long when they hatch but can grow to more than a foot. 

Bigfin reef squid are just one of the fascinating species that’ll be on exhibit in “Tentacles: The Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefishes,” opening next spring. It’ll feature a dozen species of octopuses and their kin—some of which have never been shown before. 

As our aquarists work to cultivate and care for these mysterious creatures, we’ll be sharing more behind-the-scenes stories like this. So stay tuned!

Learn more about “Tentacles”

Notes

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About me

The Monterey Bay Aquarium, perched on the edge of a world-famous coastline, is your window to the wonders of the ocean. It’s located on historic Cannery Row in Monterey and is open daily except Christmas Day.

For more information about our animals and exhibits, and to view our live web cams, please visit www.montereybayaquarium.org.

Hours of operation vary by season. Daily schedules and tickets are available on our website or by calling
(831) 648-4800.