CARIBBEAN REEF SQUID: SUPERPOWERS & SEX LIVES REVEALED
The Caribbean reef squid Sepioteuthis sepioidea is a small squid species of the Caribbean Sea and the Floridian coast. Its fins extend nearly the whole length of the body and undulate rapidly as it swims. Recently, it has been discovered that this squid is capable of brief flight out of the water.
Reef squid tend to form small shoals in and around reefs. It is by far the most common squid species in its range, and can be sighted both close to the shore and quite near the surface (although that increases the risk of predation by seabirds).
Squid are voracious eaters, dragging their prey to their mouths and using a beak to cut it up. Their target species are small fish, molluscs and crustaceans. They have a ‘raspy tongue’ known as a radula which further breaks up the food for easy consumption.
SQUID SUPERPOWERS (SUPERCOOL)
- Squid can change colour, texture and shape
- This enviable power is used defensively as camouflage or to appear larger if threatened
- It is also used in courtship rituals, something that humans would find most disconcerting
- Colour patterns are also used for routine squid-to-squid communication AND GET THIS:
- A squid can send a message to another on one side, and a different one to a squid on the other
SQUID SEX (1) “ROMANCING THE SQUID”
- A male will gently stroke a female with his tentacles
- The female will (most likely) flash an ‘alarm’ pattern
- The male soothes her (don’t try this at home, guys) by blowing and jetting water at her
- If he’s not getting on well, he’ll move off and repeat the routine until she sees his good points
- However this on / off courtship can last for hours until at last he succeeds by…
- …attaching a sticky packet of sperm onto the female’s body (romance is not dead)
- She reaches for it and moves it to her “seminal receptacle”
- Meanwhile he stays close, emitting a pulsing pattern, as well he might after all that
- She then finds a safe place to lay her eggs. Job done.
SQUID SEX (2) IT ALL ENDS BADLY
- As soon the female squid has laid her eggs, she dies at once
- The male squid live a bit longer, and may have other packets to stick – then he dies too
- It’s all horribly reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet. Without the balcony scene.
USES OF SQUID ON ABACO
Squid are prolific in the seas around Abaco, which is fortunate because they form a large part of the diet of some whale species, particularly the Blainville’s Beaked Whales that are commonly found in Abaco waters. I have a post on these magnificent creatures in preparation right now, and am in the process of sorting out suitable photos from a large number taken during a research expedition in March.
Credits: As ever (for underwater pics) Melinda Riger of Grand Bahama Scuba; also Ellen Sokol of Kiskeedee Sailing Charters, who kindly sent me the Fowl Cay photos; also Ed Brown, Clark Anderson and Nick Hobgood for ‘open-sourcing’ their great images