Showing posts tagged as "squid"
Visitor from another planet? For the first time ever, we have bigfin reef squid (Sepiateuthis lessonouiana) in our Splash Zone exhibit!
Bigfin reef squid grow to 16 inches and live about a year; the ones on display are several months old. We hatched these from eggs we received earlier in the year from Japan. Like their squid and cuttlefish relatives, they feed on fish and crustaceans. They inhabit shallow temperate and tropical coastal waters in the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and Hawaiian Islands. Unlike our local market and Humboldt squid, bigfin spend most of their time near coastal rocks and reefs. In many ways they look like cuttlefish due to their large fins and habit of sculling near reef structures.
Ever seen a Humboldt squid when it’s angry? Watch this one squirt and do a quick color change!
Did you see them? Visitors and staff were surprised to see Humboldt squid off our back deck over the weekend! They would surf up on the beach and strand when the waves receded, then wash back into the water, then back up on the beach. The local gulls started picking at them and the squid started inking!
Humboldt squid (Dosidicus gigas) can reach over six feet and are voracious predators.They’ve moved into the area in large numbers in recent years. Prior to this, we only found an occasional specimen in this area, primarily associated with El Nino warming. This species is traditionally found on both sides of the Baja California peninsula and occasionally into Southern California. This may be due to warming ocean temperatures along this coast or some other phenomenon we don’t understand yet.
The sort-of gross diet of the “vampire squid from hell”
Our colleagues at MBARI – the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute – have been sharing videos and stories about the vampire squid for years. We in turn have been sharing them with visitors during our daily Mysteries of the Deep auditorium program.
Now MBARI researchers have solved the mystery of what these unusual deep-sea animals eat. It’s a fascinating tale, with a high gross-out factor – if you’re easily grossed out by animals that eat corpses, feces and mucus.
Turns out that the vampire squid, an ancient animal with characteristics of both squids and octopus, lives in a low-oxygen zone where living prey is scarce. But there’s an abundance of marine snow raining down, consisting largely of poop, dead bodies and mucus discarded by other ocean life.
So, unlike all other known cephalopod species, it hangs out, waiting for this manna to sink down, where it traps the goodies on filament-like tentacles, wraps them in mucus and gobbles it up.
This despite a Latin name (Vampyroteuthis infernalis) that translates as “vampire squid from hell.”
Not as charming as the cast of Twilight, perhaps. But a mystery of the deep – solved.
Is it a visitor from another planet? Actually, these juvenile bigfin reef squid (Sepioteuthis lessoniana) are being raised behind the scenes for possible future exhibit. Very few aquariums in the world are displaying this bizarre species, and we hatched these from eggs sent to us from Indonesia!
Which of these is not like the others? We added market squid (Doryteutthis opalescens) to the sardine roundabout and anchovy exhibits.These squid are reproductively active in the bay and near the end of their life cycle so they won’t be here for long!