August 31, 2007

Inking in the dark

A deep-sea squid releases ink for MBARI's video cameras.

A deep-sea squid releases ink for MBARI’s video cameras.

Many shallow-water octopuses and squids release ink when disturbed. In the pitch black environment of the deep sea, such releases might seem like a waste of effort. However, a recent paper by MBARI graduate researcher Stephanie Bush and senior scientist Bruce Robison shows that, if threatened, deep-sea squids often squirt out blobs, clouds, or long narrow streams of ink. As part of her graduate research, Bush used video taken by MBARI’s remotely operated vehicles to study almost 900 different examples of squids releasing ink. The squids released ink in different patterns, creating smoke screens in which to hide, decoys to confuse predators, and even “smoke signals” to warn their fellow squids of danger.

For additional information or images relating to this article, please contact: Kim Fulton-Bennett
831-775-1835, kfb@mbari.org