Vampire squid

(Vampyroteuthis infernalis)

Swift and mysterious, vampire squid are an icon of life in the deep midwater.

It’s easy to imagine the vampire squid as a nightmarish predator. It lurks in the eternal midnight of the deep sea, has a dark red body, huge blue eyes, and a cloak-like web that stretches between its eight arms. When threatened, it turns inside out, exposing rows of wicked-looking “cirri.” Even its scientific name, Vampyroteuthis infernalis, means “vampire squid from hell.”

In reality, the vampire squid is a soft-bodied, passive creature, about the size, shape, and color of a football. A “living fossil,” it inhabits the deep waters of all the world’s ocean basins at depths where there is almost no oxygen, but also relatively few predators.

Fast Facts

Maximum size: 30 centimeters (12 inches)

Depth: 600–900 meters (2,000–3,000 feet)

Habitat: Midwater (oxygen minimum zone)

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Research publications

Robison, Bruce H.Reisenbichler, Kim R., Hunt, James C., Haddock, S.H.D., (2003). Light Production by the Arm Tips of the Deep-Sea Cephalopod Vampyroteuthis infernalis. The Biological Bulletin205: 102-109. dx.doi.org/10.2307/1543231

Hoving, H.J.T.Robison, B.H., (2012). Vampire squid: detritivores in the oxygen minimum zone. Proceedings of the Royal Society B279: 4559-4567. dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2012.1357
Hoving, H.J.T., Laptikhovsky, V.V., Robison, B.H., (2015). Vampire squid reproductive strategy is unique among coleoid cephalopods. Current Biology25: R322-323. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2015.02.018

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