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Missed the start of #CephalopodWeek? 

Catch up with this cephalopod video triple feature from Science Friday! Get a glimpse behind the scenes of the Aquarium and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and see how we culture cuttlefish and study mysterious vampire squid.

Watch the videos

But wait—there’s more! Tune in to Science Friday tomorrow—part of the radio broadcast will feature the ocean’s most mysterious multi-armed family.

HEY KIDS:  Make a Vampyroteuthis Hat!
The Vampire Squid (Vampyroteuthis infernalis)
The vampire squid is a member of the class Cephalopoda. Cephalopods are a large group of soft-bodied marine invertebrates that include squid, octopuses, cuttlefish,and nautiluses.
While vampire squid may look like squid and octopus in some ways, they are much more primitive, closely resembling fossils more than 250 million-years-old. In spite of their scary-sounding name, vampire squid are delicate, slow-moving creatures that drift along in the dark, cold layer of the ocean called the oxygen-minimum zone.
Organisms have a hard time surviving in this environment because of the low levels of dissolved oxygen in the water. As a result,there are few predators and even fewer organisms that vampire squid can prey upon. They feed primarily on tiny particles of organic material that drift down from the ocean surface,a substance sometimes called“marine snow.” Vampire squid capture this organic material using a long, sticky feeding filament similar to a fishing line, then slurp off the bits and pieces that get stuck to it…
(Go here to print out your hat: Science Friday)

HEY KIDS:  Make a Vampyroteuthis Hat!

The Vampire Squid (Vampyroteuthis infernalis)

The vampire squid is a member of the class Cephalopoda. Cephalopods are a large group of soft-bodied marine invertebrates that include squid, octopuses, cuttlefish,and nautiluses.

While vampire squid may look like squid and octopus in some ways, they are much more primitive, closely resembling fossils more than 250 million-years-old. In spite of their scary-sounding name, vampire squid are delicate, slow-moving creatures that drift along in the dark, cold layer of the ocean called the oxygen-minimum zone.

Organisms have a hard time surviving in this environment because of the low levels of dissolved oxygen in the water. As a result,there are few predators and even fewer organisms that vampire squid can prey upon. They feed primarily on tiny particles of organic material that drift down from the ocean surface,a substance sometimes called“marine snow.” Vampire squid capture this organic material using a long, sticky feeding filament similar to a fishing line, then slurp off the bits and pieces that get stuck to it…

(Go here to print out your hat: Science Friday)

The vampire squid’s latin name, Vampyroteuthis infernalis, literally translates to “vampire squid from hell”. It is unclear why it has such a foreboding name. It is not the voracious predator that you might think. Recent research at MBARI revealed that unlike its relatives the octopuses and squids, which eat live prey, the vampire squid uses two thread-like filaments to capture bits of organic debris that sink down from the ocean surface into the deep sea.

Read more about the research and watch a video about it here.

(via: Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute)

The Vampire’s Surprising Secret

by RR Helm, DSN

Vampire squid–with cloudy blue eyes, a blood red body, and barbed arms– may be the deep sea’s most frightening creature, but according to a new study, it may also be the gentlest. It turns out, this vampire is actually a vegetarian.

The decisive clue to the vampire’s kinder nature came in the form of long, stringy tentacles. For decades scientists puzzled over the mystery of these strange appendages. Are they for mating? Defense? No one knew, until scientists observed the squid doing something altogether surprising. It turns out, vampire squid use these tentacles like fishing lines, but they’re not catching living prey, they’re catching ‘snow’. Vampire squid scoop up sinking ocean gunk, known as marine snow, with their thin yellow tentacles, and then suck it off these appendages (like licking your fingers). This gunk includes bits of algae, dead animals, poo and bacteria from the ocean above.

And while the ‘vegetarian vampire’ story may be distressingly familiar–I can guarantee the vampire squid came up with it first. The lineage that includes the vampire squid has been around since the Jurassic (as in dinosaurs), and while it’s called a squid, its family tree is so old that it’s neither a squid, nor an octopus, but something altogether different. A unique creature living gently in its dark, cold, inhospitable home. Twilight may have made millions in media sales, but it’s got nothing on this real life gentle ocean vampire…

(read more: Deep Sea News)

photographs: MBARI and Kevin Raskoff

Finding Ocean Life with Sonar
The Midwater Ecology lab has been exploring the midwaters of Monterey Bay for the last week on the Western Flyer. On this expedition, they have been working with the ROV pilots to attempt to use the sonar on the ROV to detect midwater animals. 
The pilots are testing how increasing the pulse length on the Mesotech sonar enables the scientists to detect more midwater animals in order to try to estimate abundances. For example, they could estimate the size of krill swarms. With the ROV they can ground-truth the organisms the sonar is imaging. 
This bright sonar hit is an exceptionally large vampire squid, Vampyroteuthis infernalis.
via:  Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI)

Finding Ocean Life with Sonar

The Midwater Ecology lab has been exploring the midwaters of Monterey Bay for the last week on the Western Flyer. On this expedition, they have been working with the ROV pilots to attempt to use the sonar on the ROV to detect midwater animals.

The pilots are testing how increasing the pulse length on the Mesotech sonar enables the scientists to detect more midwater animals in order to try to estimate abundances. For example, they could estimate the size of krill swarms. With the ROV they can ground-truth the organisms the sonar is imaging.

This bright sonar hit is an exceptionally large vampire squid, Vampyroteuthis infernalis.

via:  Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI)

MBARI: A Deep Sea Valentine

The velvety red of a drifting jelly, the brick red of a vampire squid…many deep-sea creatures exhibit the colors of Valentine’s Day. When pursuing the prey object of their desire, deep-sea creatures may use red as camouflage. Wavelengths of light in the red end of the visible spectrum are preferentially absorbed by seawater, and therefore red colors appear black in the deep sea. Red animals disappear into the darkness, enabling them to ambush unsuspecting prey or avoid a hungry predator.

The bright red lights you can see in some of the clips (e.g., the sea star at 01:22) are lasers from MBARI’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and used to estimate sizes. The lasers are 29 cm apart.


1. Midwater jelly - Pandea rubra
2. Cock-eyed squid - Histioteuthis heteropsis
3. Siphonophore - Resomia dunni
4. Deep-sea jellyVoragonema
5. Mysid shrimp
6. Comb jelly - Beroe abyssicola
7. Cydippid comb jelly - Aulacoctena
8. Bubblegum gorgonian (Paragorgia arborea) on Davidson Seamount
9. Pandalopsis ampla
10. North Pacific Giant Octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) and Redbanded rockfish (Sebastes semicinctus)
11. Sea star — Family Pterasteridae
12. Lithodid crab - Paralomis sp.
13. New species of soft coral - Gersemia juliepackardae
14. Flapjack octopus - Opisthoteuthis sp.
15. Brisingid sea star and sea cucumber (Paelopatides confundens)
16. Bone-devouring worms - Osedax rubiplumis
17. Vampire squid - Vampyroteuthis infernalis

(via: MBARI)

MBARI researchers discover what vampire squids eat
(it’s not what you think)

About 100 years ago, marine biologists hauled the first vampire squid up from the depths of the sea. Since that time, perhaps a dozen scientific papers have been published on this mysterious animal, but no one has been able to figure out exactly what it eats. A new paper by MBARI Postdoctoral Fellow Henk-Jan Hoving and Senior Scientist Bruce Robison shows for the first time that, unlike its relatives the octopuses and squids, which eat live prey, the vampire squid uses two thread-like filaments to capture bits of organic debris that sink down from the ocean surface into the deep sea…

(photos/read more: MBARI)

Vampire Squid Are Sea’s Garbage Disposals
by Stephanie Pappas
Despite their name, vampire squid are not deep-sea bloodsuckers. In fact, new research finds these mysterious creatures are garbage disposals of the ocean.
Using long, skinny tendrils called filaments, vampire squid capture marine detritus hovering in the water ― from crustacean eyes and legs to larvae poop ― then coat it in mucus before chowing down, according to the new findings.
The discovery is a first for cephalopods, which include squid, octopus and cuttlefish, said study researcher Henk-Jan Hoving. “It’s the first record of a cephalopod that doesn’t hunt for living prey,” Hoving, a postdoctoral scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California, told LiveScience.
Vampire squid (Vampyroteuthis infernalis), which grow to be about a foot (30 centimeters) long, are widespread but not well-known. Even their life spans remains a mystery. Their name comes from their dark coloring, red eyes and the cloak-like webbing between their arms. And as namesakes of the undead, vampire squid apparently have little need for breathing. They thrive in oceanic oxygen minimum zones, where the oxygen levels are sometimes less than 5 percent that of the surrounding air…
(read more: LiveScience)          (photo: MBARI)

Vampire Squid Are Sea’s Garbage Disposals

by Stephanie Pappas

Despite their name, vampire squid are not deep-sea bloodsuckers. In fact, new research finds these mysterious creatures are garbage disposals of the ocean.

Using long, skinny tendrils called filaments, vampire squid capture marine detritus hovering in the water ― from crustacean eyes and legs to larvae poop ― then coat it in mucus before chowing down, according to the new findings.

The discovery is a first for cephalopods, which include squid, octopus and cuttlefish, said study researcher Henk-Jan Hoving. “It’s the first record of a cephalopod that doesn’t hunt for living prey,” Hoving, a postdoctoral scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California, told LiveScience.

Vampire squid (Vampyroteuthis infernalis), which grow to be about a foot (30 centimeters) long, are widespread but not well-known. Even their life spans remains a mystery. Their name comes from their dark coloring, red eyes and the cloak-like webbing between their arms. And as namesakes of the undead, vampire squid apparently have little need for breathing. They thrive in oceanic oxygen minimum zones, where the oxygen levels are sometimes less than 5 percent that of the surrounding air…

(read more: LiveScience)          (photo: MBARI)