The colossal and giant squid are the biggest among the many squid species. Even though they are slightly shorter than their giant counterparts, colossal squid are the most enormous species. They have stouter and larger bodies, giving them the weight advantage. Either way, squid are unique and intelligent organisms that thrive deep in the salty water bodies of the world. Here are some intriguing squid facts to make your day.
1. Their Blood Is Blue
Surprisingly, just like octopuses, squids have blue blood, not red, as we know. Apparently, the species have copper-containing respiratory pigments, scientifically known as hemocyanin, which gives the blood its blue color. It is the equivalent of hemoglobin in humans.
2. Squid Have Donut-Shaped Brains
The brain of a squid is donut-shaped, with its esophagus running through it. This means a squid can suffer brain damage if it eats something too big. The species usually grind their food to tiny pieces, though, so this rarely happens.
3. The Biggest Squid Was Found in New Zealand
To date, the biggest squid was the one found in New Zealand in 2007. It weighed about 495 Kg (1200 pounds) and stretched to 13 meters (43 feet) long. It is reported that it took over two hours to finally land the species to land in Antarctic waters. The only colossal squid is on display at the Te Papa Museum in New Zealand; tourists are invited to see it.
4. Squid Are Incredibly Fast
With a 40 km/h top speed, squid are among the fastest marine invertebrates. It is more incredible to imagine that they achieve this by moving tail-first rather than the traditional head-first. They are generally strong swimmers, with some species known to “fly” out of the water over short distances.
5. A Squid Once Inseminated a Woman’s Mouth
In a rather bizarre incident, a semi-cooked squid once inseminated a woman’s mouth as she was eating it. Even after spitting her meal, the woman complained of severe pain in her oral cavity; she felt a “pricking” sensation. Apparently, if not well cooked, squid try to continue reproducing even when dead.
6. They Can Camouflage
Squid can change their color to match their surrounding depending on the situation (active camouflage). Their skins are covered with controllable color chromatophores that allow them to easily go with their backgrounds. Some squid species are bioluminescent, which helps them in counter-illumination camouflage– it also allows them to hide their shadows. These features help squid distract their predators.
7. Kraken Legend Folklores Are Probably from Giant Squid Sightings
In ancient times, sailors in Norway and Iceland had superstitions and myths about a legendary enormous sea creature that terrorized anything and everything. It was described as a tentacled monster, and many believed the stories were made from real-life sightings of the giant squid.
8. They Are Carnivores
All squid species are carnivores. They use their strong suckers and arms to capture and feed on crabs, shrimp, fish, and even other squid. On the other hand, they are usually preyed on by the likes of sea birds, whales, and sharks.
9. A Giant Squid Was Once Spotted in Japan
Spotting giant squid is not easy, at least not when they are alive; they live deep in the waters. So, when one swam to Toyama Bay harbor near Tokyo on Christmas Eve of 2015, it was a huge spectacle. A daredevil diver jumped, swam close to the squid, and recorded a moment with it before it went back into the ocean.
10. Squid Can Eject Ink
Besides camouflaging and being bioluminescent, squid can eject ink to distract their predators before escaping. The species have ink sacs located in their rectums, close to their anuses. When the need arises, the sacs empty rapidly, forming a cloud of ink that distracts their predators as they maneuver away.
11. Squid Ink Contains Dopamine
Scientists have discovered squid ink contains dopamine, the same as the neurotransmitters in human brains, responsible for causing euphoria. On the flip side, the chemical’s role in squid has yet to be established, even though many believe it is for eliciting escape responses.
12. They Are a Major Food Resource Globally
Squid are widely accepted as a food resource worldwide. However, the cuisine is more prevalent in Japan, where it is eaten as ika somen or tempura. Other regions where squid are appreciated include China and Canada, where massive harvesting occurs. Not all species are edible, though; the most commonly used are L. vulgaris (known as Calamaro in Italian and Calamar in Spanish), L. pealei, and L. forbesii.
13. Applying Soy Sauce to a Cooked Squid Causes It To “Dance”
After cooking a squid, applying soy sauce to it makes it “dance.” Apparently, the ingredient activates the dead squid’s neurons, causing its tentacles to move around as if to dance. This is a popular custom in Japan, and the dish is called odori-don.
14. Squid Inhabit Almost Every Major Saltwater Body
You can find squid in pretty much every major saltwater body (and some fresh ones) worldwide. The species are known to survive even the harshest of conditions, including extreme cold and oxygen-deprived waters. They rank among the most developed invertebrates for a reason.
15. They Can Be Tiny Or Massive, Depending on the Species
Interestingly, squid are among the animals that significantly vary in size depending on the species. For instance, the benthic pygmy squids Idiosepius only grow to a maximum of 18 mm (0.7 inches). On the other hand, the giant squid can grow to 13 meters (43 feet). The majority of the squid species are longer than 24 inches long.
16. Squids Have Annual Cycles
Squids are fast-growing marine animals. They have annual cycles that end shortly after spawning. Their diet varies depending on their location. For instance, the ones in the Antarctic majorly feed on krill, while others depend on arrow worms and other squid.
17. They Live Deep In the Waters
Unless otherwise, the closest you will likely find a squid is 300 meters (1,000 feet) deep in water. They are known to inhabit deep waters, with some spotted as low as 4,000 meters (13,000 feet).
18. Male Squid Mate with Their Specialized Arms
Once they reach maturity and find mates, male squid uses the spermatophores in their specialized arms, hectocotylus, to transfer sperm to the females’ mantle cavity. Interestingly, copulation is almost instantaneous; it’s as fast as a baton pass in a relay race.
19. A US Navy Ship Was Attacked By an Unknown Squid Species in 1978
While going about their duties in 1978, a US Navy ship was attacked by what was described as a giant squid. After the incident, a part of the squid’s tentacles was found on the ship’s sonar dome. It contained sharp, carved claws that were potentially deadly. Since most of the squid species were not identified by then, many suspect that the perpetrator was a colossal squid, now that scientists have made more revelations.