Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Favorite Marine Animal: The Vampire Squid

Deciding what my favorite marine animal is was a difficult decision because I find so many marine animals fascinating, however, I finally decided on the Vampire Squid, also known as the Vampire Squid From Hell because of the fact that not much is known about it and because of its odd appearance. The scientific name for the Vampire Squid is Vampyroteuthis Infernalis. Although it looks as though it came from a horror movie, the Vampire Squid actually only grows to be about six inches in length. The vampire squid is an ancient species and is the only surviving member of the order Vampyromorphida. It is a unique member of the cephalopod family in that it shares similarities with both squid and octopi. In fact, it was originally and mistakenly identified as an octopus by researchers in 1903.

Vampire Squids have large fins at the top of its body that resemble ears. These fins serve as its primary means of propulsion as it flies through the water by flapping them.The Vampire Squid can also use jet propulsion and is gelatinous, relating more to jellyfish than squids.

Vampyroteuthis infernalis, the vampire squid

The vampire squid's eight arms are connected with a webbing of skin, which makes it look more like an octopus than a squid. When threatened, the squid can draw its arms up over itself and form a defensive web that covers its body. Each of the eight arms is lined with a single row of suction cups and rows of soft, fleshy spines known as cirri. It is these spines, along with the cape-like webbing and red eyes that give the vampire squid its unusual name.

Vampire squid are found throughout the deep oceans of the world in most tropical and temperate regions at depths of between 300 feet and 3,000 feet. They live in the oxygen minimum layer of the ocean where virtually no light reaches. Vampire Squids tend to prefer a temperature between 35 and 43 degrees Fahrenheit.

The vampire squid's body is covered with light-producing organs called photophores. This gives the squid the unique ability to "turn itself on or off" at will through a chemical process known as bioluminescence. Thankfully, the Vampire Squid is not endangered nor is it a threat to human life.

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