Wild Fact #442 – The Perfect Partnership – Hawaiian Bobtail Squid

Wild Fact #442 – The Perfect Partnership – Hawaiian Bobtail Squid

Hawaiian Bobtail Squid

Photo by Nick Hobgood (Wikimedia)

We have spent the last few days hanging around on land but today we are heading to the ocean for a nice, little swim. While we are playing around in the water, make sure to keep your eyes open for a tiny little creature known as the Hawaiian Bobtail Squid. Believe it or not, this animal can be found in the shallow waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands….shocking, right? ┬áSince winter is right around the corner, I figure we could all use a nice trip to a tropical paradise. So grab your scuba gear and lets learn a little more about the interesting Hawaiian Bobtail Squid.

As I mentioned, this squid is incredibly small. Just how tiny? Well, I had a hunch you would ask that so I came prepared. The Hawaiian Bobtail Squid has a mantle length of 2.54 cm (1″) which is pretty impressive if you stop and think about this for a second. That is one small squid! One of the most interesting features about this particular squid is their symbiotic relationship they have with a bacteria known as Vibrio fischeri.

What is this relationship?

Hawaiian Bobtail Squid

Photo by Nick Hobgood (Wikimedia)

Well, I am glad you asked! This bacteria lives in the mantle of the squid and as a result gets a nice steady meal of amino acids and sugar. The bacteria is so grateful for their food that they provide the squid with a very important feature……light! Wait, what? Yep, you read that right. The bacteria is bioluminescent and is able to determine the amount of light hitting the squid from above. They will then replicate this light on the underside of the squid, making the Hawaiian Bobtail Squid virtually invisible to predators looking up for a nice tasty snack. This is a pretty handy partnership, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, the Squid is not born with these handy, dandy bacteria living in their mantle. Nope, they actually have to attract them using a specialized mucous. Similarly, at the end of the Hawaiian Bobtail Squid’s day, they will expel the bacteria in an attempt to conserve their energy. So even though it is a great relationship, apparently it isn’t a long lasting one. I guess even the best partnerships have to come to an end at some point.

Thanks for taking the time to learn about the Hawaiian Bobtail Squid and their interesting friendship with an specialized bacteria. Enjoy the rest of your day and I will see you tomorrow.

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