Posts Tagged ‘squid’

Boo who?

October 27, 2011

by Diane Wyse, Physical Oceanography Lab

With beautiful clear days, pumpkins cozying up to lab equipment, and excited exclamations about whale sightings emanating from lab and faculty offices alike, we are feeling the spirit of the season here at Moss!  Ok, that last part was a bit of a joke– as a new student at MLML, who saw humpback whales in the Monterey Bay for the first time just last week, it would seem like this is the season to see them so close.  Not only can we watch the marine life and check the swell from our desks during study breaks, but also, whales and a whole host of exciting marine life are spotted year round from the labs.

To welcome the season, if you dare, feast your eyes upon this critter with a ghoulish name, though rather endearing and fascinating characteristics.  Did you know the vampire squid may bite off its own arm tip to evade a predator?

Vampire squid. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

With a less sinister name, though no less awesome features, meet this tiny octopod from our very own Monterey Bay!

Interested in learning more?  Check out the Encyclopedia of Life page on Vampyroteuthis infernalis. 

Pumped about unusual sea creatures and want to share with friends?  The Monterey Bay Aquarium invites you to share a free Halloween e-card.

Sperm Whale-Sized Calamari

March 8, 2011

(photo: B. Hooton)

Going eye to eye with this Robust Clubhook Squid is one of the many experiences that await visitors who tour Moss Landing Marine Labs.  Large squid are favorite snacks of sperm whales, as the artist’s rendering on the wall suggests.   You’ll notice that the sperm whale doesn’t have any teeth on its upper jaw.   How did MLML grad Mariah Boyle use this fact to keep the peace between villages in Fiji?  Find out in The Case of the Missing Sperm Whale Teeth!

Come Dive Along With Us at Catalina Island: CalamariCare

January 25, 2011

Many Market Squid gather at Fourth of July Cove, Catalina.

The California Market Squid lives from Alaska to Baja, Mexico.  They only live for 4-9 months!  Their brief life cycle has four stages: eggs, hatchlings, juveniles, and adults.  These eggs laid by the females will take 3-5 weeks to hatch.  These squid are not only important to the ocean ecosystem but for human consumption as well.  Knowing more about them help keep tasty squid in our markets.

Squid dart past in a shoal at Avalon Bay, Catalina.

Come Dive Along With Us at Catalina Island: Baby Calamari

January 24, 2011

Squatina californica, or the Pacific Angel Shark resting on California Market Squid eggs. (photo: S. Gabara)

The large amount of California Market Squid eggs means a feast for many other organisms in the bays around Catalina Island.  Many fish, invertebrates and sharks such as this Angel Shark will use this abundant food source during the winter.  I almost asked the Angel Shark to share, but realized there will hopefully be many squid and squid eggs for the future.

Come Dive Along With Us at Catalina Island: Eggy Encounter

January 23, 2011

Moss Landing Marine Labs Diver and Graduate student Paul Tompkins shows excitement after viewing a wide expanse of squid eggs at Big Fisherman's Cover, Catalina Island.

Diving in the marine reserve at Big Fisherman’s Cove near USC Wrigley Institute, diver Paul Tompkins observes squid eggs which span his entire view.  This does not happen often according to the people working and living at the Marine Science Center.  The squid and eggs are rarely this shallow and may be caused by colder than normal temperatures brought by La Niña.

Squid eggs span the horizon at Big Fisherman's Cove, Catalina.

Hey teachers! Get a 6 ft. frozen squid in the mail!

February 5, 2010

Kids get squiddy at the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History (photo: A. Booth)

by Erin Loury, Ichthyology Lab

Unwrapping a jumbo-squid-sized mail delivery was but a dream for marine scientist hopefuls of yesteryear.  Now, thanks to our pals at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station, your students can have that experience in your own classroom!

The Squid-4-kids program, run by graduate students out of the Monterey-based Hopkins Marine Station, can provide your students a one-of-a-kind learning experience to poke, prod, and dissect a giant of the deep.  The squid and lesson plans come free, you just pay for shipping.  All Humboldt squid are collected in conjunction with ongoing research or by sport fishermen who donate their excess catch.

For more information, check out  the Squids-4-Kids website, or click to down load the Squids4Kids Application.

And while you’re at it, check out the awesome squid research these Hopkins students are doing!  This great podcast and photo slideshow on searching for squid with the Hopkins crew was put together by Cassandra Brooks, an MLML alum working for the National Park Service.  And Hopkins student Danna Staaf is not just a squid researcher but also a squid blogger extraordinaire.  Give her a visit and get your dose of Squid-A-Day!

Cool Creatures: Flashy firefly squid rival any holiday light display

December 24, 2009

Firefly Squid (photo:

by Erin Loury, Ichthyology Lab

Happy Holidays from The Drop-In!  Our gift to you is a Creature Feature of one our most popular celebrities.   “Firefly squid” and “bioluminescent squid” are some of the most frequent search terms that lead people to drop in on us.  And seeing how these decorated dazzlers are the winners of our “Vote for Your Favorite Holiday Marine Creature” poll, we figured their victory justifies some more attention.

Known to the science world as Watasenia scintillans and to the Japanese as “hotaru-ika,” these sparkling cephalopods grow to a mere three inches long. Their tiny bodies are packed with photophores, which they can flash in a variety of alternating patterns.  These squid are believed to be the only cephalopods that have color vision, possessing three visual pigments instead of one like other squid.

Toursits and fishermen alike soak up some squid light in Toyama Bay, Japan (photo:

Firefly squid live throughout the Western Pacific Ocean at depths from 600 to 1,200 feet.  They gather to spawn from March to May, and can be found by the millions (or even billions!) in Toyama Bay, Japan.   The adults die soon after releasing their eggs and sperm, completing a brief, one-year life cycle.  That is, if they are not first scooped up by fishermen to be served as a Japanese delicacy.

Learn more about firefly squid at Sea and Sky and The Pink Tentacle!

Vote for your favorite holiday marine creature!

December 12, 2008

The authors of The Drop-In are locked in the vice-grip of final tests, projects, papers, you name it, along with the rest of the MLML community.  But the holiday break is approaching as quickly as our wandering attention spans.  For a welcome distraction and a bit of good cheer, we invite you to vote for the best holiday-themed marine creature!

Of course, you want to be an informed voter, so meet the contenders:

1. Christmas tree worm (Spirobranchus giganteus)

E. Loury)

Christmas tree worms (photo: E. Loury)

The name says it all, really.  This colorful polychaete (worm) spends its life bored into a coral, and extends its twin spiral plumes to filter-feed on passing plankton .  Like Old Navy sweaters, they come in a variety of colors, from orange and yellow to blue and white.  But if you pass a shadow over them, they may retract faster than your camera’s shutter (like the lower right of the photo)!

2. Firefly squid (Watasenia scintillans)

Firefly Squid

Firefly Squid (photo:

Also called the the Sparkling Enope Squid, this three-inch marvel lives in the Western Pacific and packs a bioluminescent punch that rivals the light decorations of your most zealous neighbors. Their spectacular seasonal display is a tourist attraction and a natural monument in Japan!

3. Comb Jellies (Phylum Ctenophora)

Ok, the other contestants may cry foul for nominating an entire phylum, but there are  too many cool comb jellies out there to choose just one.  And a photo doesn’t do them justice either, because they are the equivalent of those “running” Christmas lights.  Watch this video from the Vancouver Aquarium (if you can handle the cheesy sci-fi music…) to see the twinkly action!  Comb jellies are also called ctenophores, and unlike true jellies (Phylum Cnidaria), they don’t have stinging cells, just lots of little hairs that defract light in really cool ways!

4. Bamboo coral (Isidella sp.)


A bamboo coral (photo: NOAA)

Bamboo corals may have more than 8 branches, but their candelabra shape made them a prime candidate to represent Hanukkah. (They also belong to the octocorals, because each of their little polyps has 8 tentacles!)  This particularly beautiful representative was discovered by a team including Peter Etnoyer of the Deep Sea news!  They found the deep-sea coral living on seamounts 700-2700 m deep in the Gulf of Alaska.  Learn menorah about this cool new species at the Deep Sea News, including a video of its discovery!

5. Ornamented wrasse (Halichoeres ornatissiumus)

JE Randall,

Ornamented Wrasse (photo: JE Randall,

It’s red, it’s green, it looks like it should be dangling from your tree, it’s sometimes called the Christmas wrasse, and it’s even found at the Christmas Islands.  This little tropical darling clearly has a lot going for it, besides being the only vertebrate of the bunch!

Cast your vote today using our poll!  Did we grossly omit any tinsel-worthy candidates?  Post a comment to share your write-in vote!


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