January 27, 2010
5. Watasenia scintillans (Firefly Squid)
Also known as the Sparkling Enope Squid, W. scintillans is a small squid (~3″ long) found only in Japanese waters, where it is fished commercially. It is known for spectacular displays of bioluminescence and has 2-4 large black photophores on the tips of certain arms, 5 on each eyeball, and a galaxy of tiny photophores covering its body. The Firefly Squid is also the only cephalopod known to have color vision, possessing three visual pigments and a double-layered retina.
The video below is a clip from a Japanese talk show, and it features three different types of glowy sea life: Firefly Squid, bioluminescent plankton, and bioluminescent comb jelly. The squid part goes by pretty fast, but you get a good look at a school of W. scintillans all lit up!
January 27, 2010
Ben Templesmith has one of the most distinct and evocative artistic styles in comics. His most notable works include 30 Days of Night and Fell, and he is both the artist and writer on Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse (my personal favorite), Welcome to Hoxford, and Singularity 7.
This intriguing declaration appeared on his blog yesterday, and about it Mr. Templesmith says,
Future tax doge and excuse for mass murder here we come!
IN SQUID WE TRUST is available as an 11″ x 17″ print (for $14.99) on his CafePress store.
January 26, 2010
I have been eager to feature this particular Threadless design since I restarted ISK last year, but I was holding off on the hope that they would eventually reprint it…and now they have! Most squid v. whale scenes usually leave little doubt that the whale is going to end up with a stomach full of delicious ika sashimi, but I have a definite feeling that whale sushi is on the menu tonight!
“The Squid vs. The Whale” is $18 (on White American Apparel tee) and is, at the time of this writing, still available in all men’s and women’s sizes.
Incidentally, I first heard about this shirt on the old Squid.us blog. All cephalopod aficionados everywhere were waving their tentacles with joy on January 12 when it rose again from the murky depths. Welcome back Squid.us!
January 25, 2010
After a brief pause to attempt (unsuccessfully) to recover from yet another mysterious “flu-like virus” (my third since October), the Sensational Squid Countdown resumes! If you are just joining us, here’s what we have so far…
6. Histioteuthis sp. (Jewel Squid)
The Jewel Squids get their name from the distinctive large integumental photophores that make it look as though they’ve been run through a Bedazzler. They are moderate sized squid with long arms and short mantles (up to 33 mm long) with very small fins at the posterior tip. They are also commonly known as Cock-eyed Squid because their eyes are different sizes—the left eye is significantly larger than the right, is semitubular (not hemispherical), bulges out of the head, and is directed vertically, pointing up toward the surface.
Depending on who you ask, the family Histioteuthidae contains either one or two genera, and up to 19 species. Some researchers place three of the species in the genus Stigmatoteuthis, which is distinct from Histioteuthis by the presence of even longer arms (relative to mantle length) and paired secondary reproductive organs.
Histioteuthids are oceanic squid found world-wide at depths of around 2500 ft. They have often been observed from submarines with their arms curled up over their heads in a way that give the appearance that the arms are tied in knots.
January 20, 2010
The next two squids in the countdown are not very well known, but both have achieved a small degree of Internet fame…which is similar to actual fame only not nearly as impressive.
8. Promachoteuthis sulcus
P. sulcus is known from a single specimen collected in the south Atlantic at a depth of 1759-2000 meters. The holotype* is an immature female with a mantle length of 25mm. Its diagnostic characteristics include tentacles that are thicker at their base than the arms, and arm suckers that are bigger than the suckers on the tentacle clubs. However, the thing that got this obscure little squid noticed was this photo of its mouth, showing what seem to be disturbingly human-like teeth.
*A holotype is a single example of a specimen used to formally define a species.
These “teeth” are actually the circular, folded lips that surround the squid’s beak (which isn’t visible in this photo). Not long ago, this photo started making its way around the Internet, eventually getting the inevitable Lolcat treatment. Like so…
Considering that P. sulcus doesn’t have a common name yet, I think “Lolsquid” would be quite fitting.
7. Helicocranchia sp. (Piglet Squid)
Piglet Squid belong to the Cranchiidae (aka cranch squids, aka glass squids), a family of squids that include some of the smallest and largest known cephalopods. There are at least three species of Helicocranchia (although there may be as many as 14), and these small (mantle length ~100 mm) oceanic squids are found in tropical and subtropical waters world-wide. They are characterized by extremely large funnels that extend beyond their beaks and which resemble the snouts of pigs (hence the common name). Additionally, their arms jut out over the eyes like a shock of hair, and they have very tiny, and adorable, paddle-shaped fins. (Inset photo of Helicocranchia sp. by SERPENT Project.)
Basically, they look like Pokémon.
Helicocranchia, I CHOOSE YOU!
January 20, 2010
Batman Confidential #36 (November, 2009)
Story by Royal McGraw
Art by Marcos Marz
If anyone can out-Hellboy Hellboy, it’s Batman!
January 19, 2010
Proving that not all squid attacks happen on the West Coast, here’s a brand new tentacular Tee from our friends at Gama-Go! Where’s Spider-Man when you need him?
$28 available in Olive and Black. Buy it now from Gama-Go
January 19, 2010
9. Dosidicus gigas (Humboldt Squid)
The Humboldt Squid (aka the Jumbo Squid, aka the Jumbo Flying Squid, aka Diablo Rojo, aka the Red Devil) was the star of the minor, and poorly researched, media frenzy this past Summer that I like to call Squidvasion! 2009. Although there’s no excuse for lazy science reporting, I can understand the impulse to occasionally over-sensationalize an animal as cool as Dosidicus gigas. They can grow up to 7 ft long and posses tentacles with razor-sharp suckers for crying out loud! They also have the ability to instantly change their color from white to a deep blood-red, and, as the name “Jumbo Flying Squid” suggests, they have been known to eject themselves out of the water to avoid predators. Humboldts are the most common species of large squid, at least of those that we are able to easily observe. They travel in large shoals of up to 1,200 individuals and come to the surface at night to feed. Their vicious and voracious reputation has probably been a wee bit exaggerated, but I would still think twice before going swimming with a thousand man-sized predatory squid! Of course it would be another story completely if I had a suit of anti-squid armor!
This video by KQED, starts off a little on the cheesy side (and features a talking head that insists on calling them “fish”), but that soon gives way to a very informative and level-headed look at the biology of D. gigas and how its recent expansion of range may be connected with global climate change. Of course the best part is all the excellent footage of Jumbo Squids in action!
January 18, 2010
Last year, for Cephalopod Awareness Day(s), I did a post called Eight Awesome Octopuses! where I profiled eight types of octopus that I find particularly fascinating. My original plan had been to do a similar post on squids, but that wasn’t in the cards at that time. Cephalopodmas, too, came and went, but still there was no time! So now, at long last, squids finally get their day. Actually, they’ll get a whole week…maybe two.
So, without further ado, let’s begin the countdown of my (current) favorite squids.
10. Sepioteuthis sepioidea (Caribbean Reef Squid)
S. sepioidea is commonly found in shallow coral reef environments from Florida through the Caribbean Sea in small schools of 4-30 individuals. Adults are 12-20 cm long, and they typically exhibit a mottled brown coloration, although, like most cephalopods, reef squid are covered in chromatophores that allow for rapid and complex color changes. With fins that extend almost the entire length of their broad mantles, they strongly resemble cuttlefish, and, in fact, Sepioteuthis essentially means “cuttlefish squid.” There are at least two other species of Sepioteuthis: S. lessoniana (Bigfin Reef Squid) from the Pacific and S. australis (Southern Reef Squid or Southern Calamari) from the waters off Australia and New Zealand.
The Caribbean Reef Squid happens to be the only species of squid I have personally encountered in the wild. For most of my life I’ve been an armchair amateur marine biologist, but in 2002, while honeymooning in St. John (U.S. Virgin Islands), I finally had the opportunity to do some snorkeling. I saw stingrays and spotted eagle rays, green sea turtles, and a plethora of tropical fish (including a frighteningly huge barracuda), but the highlight was a small school of reef squid. I’m not a particularly skilled photographer even on land, so the few shots I got with my cheapo underwater camera are not anything special. Yet, they are proof that I’ve actually swum with squid, so here they are!