Showing posts tagged as "vampire squid"
Mystery of the deep! Yesterday we added a deep-sea vampire squid to our Tentacles special exhibition—the first time this species has ever been displayed.
Learn more on our blog
Now on Exhibit: Two Rare Deep-Sea Cephalopods!
We just added two striking deep-sea animals to our Tentacles special exhibition: the vampire squid and the Japetella octopus. The vampire squid has never been exhibited at any public aquarium before. Both were collected with the help of our sister organization, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).
The vampire squid (Vampyroteuthis infernalis) is an ancient animal that lives in deep tropical and temperate waters—like the Monterey submarine canyon. Despite its sinister appearance—and its name, which means “vampire squid from hell”—this animal is a scavenger. It lives on “marine snow” that rains down from above: a mixture of poop, dead animal parts and mucus.
The Japetella octopus (Japetella sp.) is a beautiful animal that lives in the midwater realm, hundreds of feet below the surface but well above the sea floor. It has chromatophores that enable it to go from see-through with spots to almost a solid orange color. MBARI’s remotely operated vehicles have observed them on video both in Monterey Bay and—even more often—on expeditions to the Gulf of California.
Like many cephalopods, these animals can be fragile and short-lived, so we encourage you to visit soon and check them out!
They’re in the exhibit where we recently housed two flapjack octopus, which we’ve now moved behind the scenes.
Photos and videos courtesy MBARI.
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.