EVNautilus

Biologists just spotted the cutest 'stubby squid' ever in the deep sea

We can't breathe.

BEC CREW
17 AUG 2016
 

You know what's almost as good as finding a bright magenta, googly-eyed stubby squid just chilling by itself 900 metres deep in the ocean? Listening to a bunch of biologists lose it over the fact that they'd just stumbled on something that legit looks like a cartoon. If this doesn't make you want to be a marine biologist, nothing will.

 

The bright-eyed critter was spotted by underwater rovers attached to the research vessel, E/V Nautilus, off the coast of California, and after some debate, biologists watching from the surface identified it as some kind of cuttlefish.

It's been since identified as the stubby squid (Rossia pacifica) - a particularly rare sight in the wild.

Interestingly, you might think the biologists got it wrong when they said it's definitely a cuttlefish, but despite their name, and the fact that they belong to the bobtail squid order of cephalopods, these creatures are more closely related to cuttlefish than they are to squid or octopuses.

Also known as dumpling squid, bobtail squid have a rounder mantle (or body) than cuttlefish, and no cuttlebone, which is like hard, brittle internal shell. They have the same number of tentacles as a squid, though - eight with suckers, plus two long arms for grabbing prey.

The beautiful colours of bobtail squid, which you really should just Google, because look, are partly to do with the bioluminescent bacteria that take up residence in their mantle.  

As the stubby squid in the footage above is demonstrating so charismatically, these guys spend most of their lives on the seafloor. When they don't feel like being out in the open so much, they produce a sticky mucus 'jacket' and burrow into the sediment to camouflage themselves, leaving only their giant eyes poking out of the sand to spot prey.

 

Their range is quite extensive - they've been found in the Northern Pacific Ocean from Japan to Southern California, with researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) spotting the deepest one at 1,300 metres down (4,260 ft). Some have also been spotted as far up as 300 metre (984 feet).

If you were hoping to see this stubby squid get up and move around, sorry to disappoint, but we have another bobtail squid of a different species, spotted by the E/V Nautilus team back in 2014. And this one demonstrates both the hiding, and fleeing behaviours:

Find out more about the E/V Nautilus's ongoing research mission at their website, which has an awesome live feed that you should really just leave on at work. Because you don't want to miss out on stuff like this purple alien blob... thing that they found just last month, right?

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