– A sea creature that can change sides
Waterfalls Magazine – The vampire squid is a creature with a unique ability to turn itself “inside out” to avoid predators. The vampire squid has 8 long arms, and a long curly strand that serves as a sensory filament.
It has a unique ability to react when it is startled. It can curl its web and arms around the rest of its body—turning sort of ‘inside out.’ This change in appearance may help it avoid being attacked by predators.
These creatures live in the deep ocean with millions of other species, some of which are little-known and on which little study has been done.
When disturbed, the vampire squid inverts its cape, displaying large spines that line the underside of its arms. When exhibiting this posture, this species looks rather intimidating, but it is actually quite harmless. It is not predatory. Instead, it depends on food particles that it captures using sticky cells on its long, filamentous tentacles. In this way, it opportunistically feeds on plant and animal matter that sinks from the surface ocean. Some large fishes and diving predators are known to eat vampire squids. Unlike shallow-water squids and octopuses, vampire squids do not expel black ink to escape predation. In the darkness of the mesopelagic zone, black or dark purple ink would not be effective. Instead the vampire squid expels a colorless substance that contains numerous particles of bioluminescent (light-producing) material. These twinkling lights confuse potential predators.
In addition to the light produced during their defense response, vampire squids produce light at the tips of each of their arms. This light may be used as a form of communication. As this species is naturally rare, encounters between males and females likely do not happen very often. For that reason, it is important that they reproduce when given the chance, and females are known to store the sperm from males for long periods before using it to fertilize their eggs.
Like most deep-sea organisms, it is very difficult to study vampire squids in their natural environment, so little is known about the behavior of these animals. With continued exploration of the deep ocean, scientists will hopefully find out more about this unique and interesting species.
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