Decoding the secret language of squid. 🦑💭
Humboldt squid (Dosidicus gigas) are formidable predators, whose group foraging often resembles a feeding frenzy. Despite this free-for-all appearance, foraging Humboldt squid generally avoid direct contact or physical competition for prey. New research by MBARI suggests that, as they hunt, these squid communicate with each other using changing patterns of light and dark pigment on their skin. The changes are visible even in the darkest depths of the ocean because the squids’ entire bodies glow in the dark, so the pigment patterns are backlit like words on the screen of a handheld electronic device.
The squid exhibit changing color patterns most often when they are interacting with one another in groups. This suggests that their pigmentation changes may be an effective means of communication, analogous to humans using turn signals in traffic. Though the meaning of the signals remains unknown, this research suggests that Humboldt squids use changes in body patterns as a consistent and effective means of communication in the deep. Head to the link in our bio to watch the full video and see how many color patterns you can spot!
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MBARI's Deep-Sea Guide provides easy access to the institute’s database with millions of records of deep-sea animals, seafloor habitats, geological features, and research tools. It allows users everywhere to dip their toes into MBARI’s research data and see for themselves the astonishing diversity of animals and geologic features in the deep sea. This sea star, Asthenactis fisheri, was observed nearly 1,500 meters (4,921 feet) deep on a seamount off the coast of central California. Go to our website and search the Deep-Sea Guide for this or other deep-sea animals! ⠀
Research programs at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) encompass the entire ocean, from the surface waters to the deep seafloor, and from the coastal zone to the open sea. The need to understand the ocean in all its complexity and variability drives MBARI's research and development efforts.