Unusual Sea Creatures: Vampiric Squid (The Vampire Squid Of Hell)
Vampire Squid of Hell
The vampire squid, or vampiric squid, is a creature which takes it's name from the latin 'vampyroteuthis infernalis' which literally translates to vampire squid of Hell.
Vampiric squid are often found in tropical oceans and although the creature was originally classified as a type of octopus in 1903 by Carl Chun, the vampiric squid was later assigned to a new order, along with various extinct taxa.
Vampire squid are generally found in the deeper depths of tropical oceans, usually between 2,000-3,000 ft below the surface which is fascinating because at this level, the OMZ (Oxygen Minimum Zone), there is not enough oxygen saturation for aerobic metabolism in higher organisms.
However, rather impressively the vampiric squid is one of the only creatures that is able to continue breathing normally in this zone at oxygen saturation levels as low as 3% and can survive just fine.
Vampire squid consist of a gelatinous body which can actually appear to vary in colour due to various lighting and atmospheric conditions. Sometimes the vampire squid can appear to be jet black whilst at other times it can appear to have a strong reddish hue.
Vampiric squid can reach lengths of approximately 1-ft (30cm) with the creature's body making up around 50% of it's length.
The vampire squid has eight arms, or tentacles, each of which is interconnected by webbing and lined with rows of spines. Vampiric squid can have extremely large eyes in proportion to their body, sometimes as large as 1-inch. Under varying lighting conditions,a vampire squid's eyes can appear to be either red or blue.
Rather fascinatingly, the vampiric squid is covered with photophores - organs that produce light. These 'light organs' allow the squid to give out disorienting flashes of light which can be used as a defense mechanism to ward off predators.
These fantastic flashes can be as short as a fraction of a second in duration or for up to several minutes. Vampiric squid are able to control the intensity and size of the flashes of light they emit.
Even more fascinatingly, the vampire squid has a pair of photoreceptors on top of it's head which it is believed may be used to detect any movement coming from above.
In addition, the squid uses counterillumination by generating it's own bluish light which cloaks the creature's presence from other creatures below - in other words, whilst the vampiric squid can detect threats from above with it's eyes, it cannot detect them from below if it is looking up and therefore uses bioluminescence to camouflage itself from any predators that may be located below.
The vampiric squid's ink resources are limited and therefore, if attacked, the squid will usually create a cloud of bioluminescent mucus consisting of countless orbs of blue light from the tips of it's tentacles/arms.
The tentacles of a vampiric squid are therefore very different to that of an octopus, they do not suck - they excrete mucus and the squid also uses this method in order to package their food ready for consumption.
© 2012 Marc Hubs