What Does a Vampire Squid Really Eat?

Researchers at MBARI have discovered that the vampire squid (Vampyroteuthis infernalis) doesn’t share a diet with its bloodthirsty namesake. In a recent news release, it was announced that this scary-sounding cephalopod actually feeds on the remains and waste of animals and microalgae that live in shallower waters. This “marine snow” falls through the water column to deeper water, where the vampire squid can pick it up using its unique features. The recent study observed that this creepy creature extends one of its long, thin filaments (which can be 8 times its body length!) to capture floating debris and bring it back towards its body. The vampire squid then scrapes the filament clean with its tentacles, which produce a mucus that sticks the food particles together. This is one ‘vampire’ that’s less scary than it looks!

The vampire squid isn’t as bloodthirsty as it’s name implies.
Photo copyright 1999 Brad Seibel

For more pictures, check out MBARI’s web page dedicated to the vampire squid, here.

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