Offbeat

Darkest Deepest Secret

The vampire squid is a small, deep-sea cephalopod found throughout the temperate and tropical oceans of the world. Unique retractile sensory filaments justify the Vampire Squid’s placement in its own order: Vampyromorphida, which shares similarities with both squid and octopuses. Vampyroteuthis was first discovered and described in 1903 by the German marine biologist Dr Carl Chun, so taken by the bizarre appearance of this animal, Chun named it Vampyroteuthis infernalis, literally the ‘Vampire Squid from Hell.

The Vampire Squid reaches a maximum total length of around 30 cm (1 ft). Its 15 cm (6 inch) gelatinous body varies in color between velvety jet-black and pale reddish, depending on location and lighting conditions. A webbing of skin connects its eight arms, each lined with rows of fleshy spines or cirri; the inside of this “cloak” is black. The Vampire Squid is almost entirely covered in light-producing organs called photophores. They’re capable of producing disorienting flashes of light for fractions of a second to several minutes in duration.

It lives on depths of 600 to 900 meters. The vampire squid is a very unique creature that can survive in the oxygen minimum zone and it’s one of the few that can spend its entire life on such great depths. A young squid has 1 pair of fins to use, but a middle age has 2 pair of fins that he can use, these serve as primary means of propulsion: vampire squid “fly” through the water by flapping their fins. When the squid gets older he only has 1 pair left.

The numbers of vampire squids is unknown, but it surely isn’t a very big population, because it’s difficult to encounter someone of the other sex. Once the male delivers its package to the female, the female can choose when she’s wants to use the package to fertilize her eggs. After this step the female vampire squid will need to take care of the eggs for 400 days before they hatch. In this period the female vampire squid doesn’t eat and dies shortly after the eggs hatch.

To finish with a fun fact, the vampire squid actually has the largest eye of any animal relative to body size. A fully grown female can have an eye that is an inch across, comparable to a fully grown dog.   For this it will shortly earn itself a place in the Guinness Book of Records!

Though this amazing creature was discovered way back in 1903, very few are aware of its existence today. Hope this article helps bring awareness to the fact that vampire squids exist.

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