Vampire Squid Facts

by on March 7th, 2015
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The vampire squid, vampyroteuthis infernalis, is unique in that it shares characteristics of both octopuses and squids. They are a small species, measuring only about 1 foot (0.3 meters) long. The females are slightly larger than the males. They have a gelatinous form and resemble jellyfish more than squids. Depending on the location and amount of light hitting them, a vampire squid can appear either completely black with red eyes or red with blue eyes. Actually, they have the largest eyes relative to their body size of any animal on earth. A vampire squid has 8 arms that are connected by a webbing of skin. Their skin is covered with light-producing organs called photophores, which allow them to either light themselves up, or turn themselves off at will.

The vampire squid can be found in temperate to tropical regions in the ocean. They will usually only inhabit waters that are no more than 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7.2 degrees Celsius) and will often remain at depths of anywhere from 300 to 3,937 feet (91 to 1,200 meters). This animal moves around by using the fins located at the top of its body. It was thought that they were weak swimmers because they have weak muscles, but in fact they can maintain speeds of 2 body lengths per second for short distances.

The diet of a vampire squid consists of copepods, prawns and cnidarians. They will attract their prey by making their arm tips glow. Once the victim is close enough, they will swim around in circles until they catch it and eat it with their powerful jaws. They have a slow metabolism, allowing them to go long periods of time without eating. This is particularly helpful as it can be difficult to catch something at such great depths. When faced with a predator, this creature will light up at great intensity and shoot out bioluminescent mucus (they cannot shoot out ink) to distract their attacker while they make their escape. Once they are far enough away, they can turn themselves off so to speak and be invisible in the dark depths.

Not much is known about the breeding habits of the vampire squid. Evidence suggests that breeding can take place throughout the year as eggs have been found at various times. It is believed that a male will deposit its sperm into the sac of a female. The female will later release the fertilized eggs into the water. The female will remain in the general vicinity of the eggs until they are ready to hatch around 13 months later. After hatching the little ones will drift in the water, undergoing what has been described as a double metamorphosis as they grow. When they are young, they have a pair of fins close to their eyes that will disappear as they get older while a new pair grows. Once they are close to reaching maturity, the newly developed fins are resized and relocated in order to maximize their swimming efficiency.

The vampire squid is not listed as an endangered or threatened species. As with many deep sea creatures, it is difficult to accurately estimate their numbers. More research is necessary to determine how much of an impact people have on them. Hopefully, the vampire squid can continue to live peacefully at the ocean depths and avoid facing the threat of extinction. After all, such a harmless and unique underwater creature deserves to live and prosper far into the future.

Works Cited

“Vampire Squid” 10 June 2011

“Vampyroteuthis Infernalis, Vampire Squid” 10 June 2011

“Vampire Squid” 10 June 2011

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