Wild Fact #754 – Saturday Morning Cartoon – Glass Squid

Photograph by David Shale, courtesy University of Aberdeen

During yesterday’s research on the Dumbo Octopus or “Graceful Octopus” as Agapelife so eloquently named it, I came across another interesting sea creature.  I found the cartoon appearance of the Glass Squid so amusing that I had to write a Wild Fact on them. Seriously, look at the picture.  Believe it or not that is a real animal and not some artwork you find in one of those fancy glass stores where I was never allowed to touch anything as a kid.

Glass Squid

There are actually about 60 different Glass Squid species so they don’t all look like a Saturday morning cartoon but they all have a very unique appearance.  These cool looking animals can be found in the middle depths of the ocean where the sun-lit water combined with their transparency makes a pretty good camouflage. To make this camouflage even better some species actually have a bio-luminescent light organ on the undersides of their eyes.  How does this help with camouflage you ask? Well, the light it emits will cancel out their shadow, so now you have a transparent animal swimming through the water without a shadow.  You won’t know it is there until you swim into it.  Just imagine how confused that fish would be swimming into a see-thru squid. In fact in most cases the only thing you will see is their cigar-shaped digestive gland, which acts like a liver for the squid.  Again, some species have a small light organ on the tip of their digestive gland which also cancels out any shadows.  Clever little buggers if you ask me!

Most of the Glass Squid species have a swollen body with incredibly short arms.  Each arm will have two rows of suckers, also called hooks and the third arm is usually enlarged.  To make themselves even cooler the Glass Squid will often have a large chamber filled with Ammonia.  No, they don’t use this chamber to get their white clothes even whiter. They actually use the Ammonia to assist with their buoyancy control.  Interesting little animals aren’t they?

Enjoy the rest of your day folks!

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