Ten Sensational Squids: Caribbean Reef Squid (#10)
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!