Monday, February 8, 2010

Vampire Squid Turns Self Inside Out

The vampire squid can turn itself "inside out" to avoid predators as shown in the above video just released by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).

The MBARI has released this video in an attempt to emphasize a report that raises a red flag about the conditions of the earth’s oceans. Scientists fear that species such as the Vampire Squid (Vampyroteuthis infernalis) could be threatened by human activities.

The vampire squid is a living fossil having changed very little since its first appearance before the dinosaurs about 300 million years ago.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute’s Dr. Bruce Robison, who authored the report published in Conservation Biology, narrates the institute’s video:

“Vampyroteuthis has very large eyes, because it lives about a half a mile deep in the ocean, where the light is very dim. We took these pictures from a deep diving robotic submarine. And you can see the reflection of our lights in that beautiful blue eye.”

Beside the standard 8 arms, the vampire squid has a long curly strand that serves as a sensory filament.

When startled, the animal curls its web and arms around it body seeming to turn itself inside out. At this time, scientists feel this is a protective move designed to avoid predator attacks by changing its appearance. These cephalopods (they are not technically squid) live in the deepest portions of the oceans with millions of other lesser-known or totally-unknown species.

Robison says human activities threaten all of these.

“They are threatened by ocean warming, decreasing oxygen, pollution, overfishing, industrialization and dozens of other changes taking place in the deep. We have a responsibility to learn all we can about these amazing animals and to protect them from the greatest danger to life in the deep: the human species.”

Robinson’s scientific focus is on the part of the ocean which falls between the points located between 330’ below the waters surface to just above the ocean floor. This area is called the “deep pelagic zones” and can be as deep as 6 miles below the surface.

The zone above the deep floor of the ocean is home to many species that serve as food for the marine species that humans eat such as salmon and tuna. Many whales, turtles and giant squid also rely on this zone for their food.

Via National Geographic Daily News

No comments: