A Compendium of Reef Squid Information, Photos and Video
Monday, November 21, 2011
I extend thanks to those who have contributed to my effort to share the most concise and accurate Reef Squid information available (see the Reef Squid references below) and welcome insights that will help me improve this z-page. Also, thank you to all of my readers for sharing this page on the Internet. After rebranding zerzle* around children’s books, I decided to keep this article live. Mainly because so many squid lovers visit this page, but also because I think reef squid are incredibly cool and kids visiting zerzle* need cool stuff to read about.
Introduction to the Bigfin Reef SquidSquid are fascinating creatures to behold in their natural habitats, and of the some 300 known species, the Bigfin Reef Squid may be one of the easiest cephalopods for snorkelers and divers to study since they live in warm shallow waters around the world. With eight arms and two long tentacles, the Bigfin species of Reef Squid can be found everywhere from the Hawaiian islands to the Izu Peninsula in Japan, the Philippines and even the Red Sea. If you have enjoyed Calamari at a restaurant like Olive Garden then you know how tasty this fast-swimming cephalopod mollusk can be. Perhaps its flavor is due to its diet, as this carnivorous invertebrate can consume 30-50% of its body mass each day.
“Like other members of the genus Sepioteuthis, [Bigfin Reef Squid] are sometimes mistaken for cuttlefish due to the large fin that surrounds their mantle; the ‘Sepio’ in their scientific name refers to their cuttlefish like appearance.” (Source)
Indigenous to temperate and tropical regions, Bigfin Reef Squid hover in the water like silent helicopters, almost motionless except for their gracefully undulating translucent fins, probing their surroundings with large and curiously alien-like eyes.
Built-In Water Jet Propulsion SystemA Bigfin Reef Squid can move quickly by siphoning water through the front of its mantle cavity and expelling it with precise jet propulsion. Such would prove an unfortunate disadvantage to marine organisms falling prey to this speedy carnivore with suckered tentacles.
Reef Squid use Color to Their AdvantageTrue to cephalopod form, Bigfin Reef Squid spray ink as a defense mechanism and change the colors and patterns on their bodies as a means of communication. This color change is accomplished using chromatiphores.
Underwater photographer, Tony Wu, has observed that protective male Reef Squid flash warning colors at other males that get too close during courtship. For example, after mating in mid-water, a male and female squid would descend to the sea bottom where the female would deposit eggs among tree branches. Tony noted that the male had the ability to maintain peaceful white colors on the lower female-facing side of its mantle while flashing warning colors on its top. And though two or more males would often entwine tentacles, flash angry color combinations and battle over a seemingly oblivious female, the original male usually prevailed.
The Reef Squid are ListeningAfter at least a century’s worth of debate new research indicates that octopi and squid can hear—though not as well as fish. This discovery is explained in a BBC article that suggests Bigfin Reef Squid hearing might keep them on alert for predatory whales and dolphins. Hearing sounds may even help them catch prey and communicate with each other.
“Squid have a better hearing capability than the octopus,” says Hong Young Yan of the Taiwan National Academy of Science in Taipei, Taiwan. His team believes Bigfin Reef Squid use a sac-like organ called the statocyst to register sound. Containing sensitive hairs and a mineralised mass, the statocyst is the same organ prawns and other fish use to hear. In Part A of Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, Yan’s team reports that squid can hear a range of sound from 400Hz to 1500Hz, whereas octopi can only hear from 400Hz to 1000Hz. Finding out exactly what these intelligent creatures listen to is Yan’s next quest.
Glow-in-the-dark Reef Squid
Reef Squid = Friends of ScienceThe Bigfin species of Reef Squid is an ideal research organism because of its enlarged axon and low rates of disease and cannibalism. In addition, it’s an easy creature to transport to research facilities. Cephalopods in general are known for having very complex nervous systems and the Reef Squids’ amazing defense mechanisms add to their scientific allure. Like humans all cephalopods can perceive focused images but the Bigfin Reef Squid is colorblind—a peculiar trait for a creature that changes color. These, along with their curious mating rituals, make Bigfin Reef Squid model subjects for a variety of research topics including neuroscience, oncology, physiology and nutrition.
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Reef Squid References
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