Squid are often considered the elusive creatures of the sea.
Due to their often deep oceanic habitat it is rare that they are seen or studied by humans.
These animals are characterized as cephalopods and belong to the Teuthida order which is composed of around 300 species.
Several characteristics stand out among squid including their bilateral symmetry, mantle (often flanked by a fin attached to each side), eight arms and two tentacles (usually with suction cups attached to the back of them).
Squid have gills used for breathing (which pull oxygen from the water) and are highly adapted to their oceanic environment which makes them excellent swimmers.
At the front of the squids mantle is a directionally controllable siphon which the squid forces water out of that allows it to navigate and move through the ocean.
The skin of the squid is covered in chromatopheres, which give squid the ability to change color and adapt to its environment allowing it to change color, blend in and camouflage itself with the environment.
While the size of squid can vary widely most squid are usually no more than 2 feet long, the giant squid however may reach a length of over 40 feet, and a colossal squid was said to have been captured measuring in at 46 feet.
Large squid may also eat smaller squid and have been known to attack sharks by wrapping its tentacles around it and strangling its prey.
In order to capture their food squid will either sneak up on their prey or chase it and use their arms/tentacles to grab onto their prey and wrap their suction-like tentacles around it to keep it from escaping.
Once they’ve captured their prey they use their beak to tear their food apart into smaller manageable pieces and consume it.
In order to protect themselves squid let out a black ink which darkens and clouds the water making it difficult for predators to see them.
Once these marine animals release their dark cloud of ink they use their arms and siphon to propel themselves away from the danger.
Some squid also have the ability to change color making them appear almost transparent and allowing them to blend in with the surroundings.
This form of camouflage can be very useful, especially when surrounded by objects that help the squid blend in due to their color and/or shape.
When attacked squid will use their tentacles to wrap around its prey in an attempt to protect itself and stay away from its predators mouth.
In fact large squid are known to grab onto the heads of sperm whales that try to eat them and will use their tentacles to try and prevent the whale from being able to consume them.
Humans and squid
As a source of food squid have become very popular in a large diversity of cultures and countries from Asian countries such as china, Vietnam and Japan to European countries such as Portugal, Italy and Spain and from Latin America to the United States (commonly known as calamari).
In fact squid is eaten worldwide by both people and marine mammals.
Depending on where squid are hunted and prepared the types of meals that can be made by them can vary significantly.
They may be steamed or fried and eaten alone or mixed into a salad.
When it comes to culture and how squid are perceived squid have been the story of many popular folklore tales, regarded as fearsome creatures of the sea in mythology and used in popular artwork and tattooing.
Images of colossal squid fighting large sperm whales can often be seen depicted in popular images that try to capture the squids dramatic experiences through the lens of the artist.
Squid are an important part of our ecosystem and serve to feed many types of marine mammals (such as the sperm whale) and other types of aquatic animals that count on squid as part of their primary diet.
Without squid many animals that rely on them would lose a primary source of food and nutrients and may even begin to die as a result.
If there predators were to die it would cause the animals above them in the food chain to lose their primary source of food and lead to a weaker food chain.
In addition to this some of the animals that squid feed on may begin to over populate and end up consuming their source of food to the extent that it would be unable to sustain itself and eventually these animals may also starve due to overpopulation and a lack of sufficient food.
Although this is an extreme example it is important to understand the significant role squid play in stabilizing the food chain and oceans ecosystem.
10 Fascinating squid facts
- Depending on the species squid can vary greatly in terms of size from less than 2 ft. long all the way up to over 40 ft. long.
- At over 40 ft. long the colossal squid is the largest known invertebrate currently in existence.
- Squid are one of the most popular sources of food among those who consume seafood on a regular basis, especially among indigenous peoples and individuals that live near the ocean and consider fish and squid a necessity. One commonly known seafood dish made from squid is calamari.
- The sperm whale relies on squid as a primary part of its diet. Without squid the sperm whale would have a very difficult time finding food to consume.
- Flying squid have been observed traveling nearly 100 ft. (30 meter) in the air in order to avoid attacks from predators or travel long distances while minimizing energy expenditure.
- Unlike other animals squid have three hearts.
- Squid are cephalopods and belong to the order known as Teuthida, which is composed of around 300 different species.
- Because squid are cold-blooded they do not need body fat or a high metabolism to keep them warm.
- Giant squid are known to be ferocious fighters as scars and markings have been found on the heads of sperm whales that try to consume these large beasts.
- Measuring in at 10 inches or more giant/colossal squid have the largest eyes of any known animal.