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Crazy Deep Sea Creatures






     Life in the ocean is still very much a mystery; for every species we know about, there are tens or hundreds that we haven't discovered yet. However, even if you're not a marine biologist, you can still enjoy the unique ocean wildlife: just go snorkeling in Aruba, and watch the activity around coral reefs and shallow pools. Even with a scuba suit, you won't see some of the strangest creatures that are right under your feet: the deep-sea squids.

Deep beneath the tropical waters lies Vampyroteuthis infernalis, literally the "vampire squid from Hell." It is the only member of its taxonomic order. This 1-foot long cephalopod has a dark reddish-black body, with a small pair of fins that serve as its primary means of movement throughout the water. Its red eyes are situated at the bottom of the mantle; and its eight arms are all connected by a web of skin that looks very much like Dracula's cape. The vampire squid is covered in photophores--tiny light-producing organs that can produce brief flashes of light to distract and confuse enemies.

The vampire squid is thought to live in the aphotic zones of the ocean, at least 2,000 feet below the surface; there is very little oxygen there, and the vampire squid is the only cephalopod known to survive in such an anaerobic zone. Its entire body is built to withstand life in this suffocating, difficult environment. The vampire squid does not have an ink sac; it can briefly daze it's enemies by shooting a bioluminescent mucus at them, that looks like a blob of blue light. It eats small prawns, cnidarians, and small crustaceans called copepods. Very little is known about the vampire squid's diet or hunting methods, but they're probably opportunistic predators who eat whatever they can find; down in the darkness, there's never a guarantee of a meal.

While the vampire squid is an impressive and unique specimen, it pales in comparison to the giant squid. It has been found that this phenomenally large cephalopod can grow to a length of at least 43 feet. This deep-sea giant has been found all over the world; while several dead bodies have been caught in fishing nets, a live specimen was photographed in 2006. The giant squid has a torso, or mantle, measuring about 6 feet long; it has two long tentacles and eight arms, and hundreds of suction cups are on its body. They move by pulling water into their mantle cavity and then shooting it out, propelling themselves along in the water to find deep-sea fish to eat. The nervous system of the Giant squid is highly developed; its large brain is coupled with the largest eyes of any creature on Earth; it's eyes are an incredible 1 foot wide.

The sperm whale is the giant squid's main predator, and sometimes whales exhibit the telltale signs of previous tough matches against squids, as scars on their bodies. The massive size and elusive nature of this creature made it the inspiration for hundreds of stories throughout human history. The only larger cephalopod might be the colossal squid, which is only found in areas near Antarctica. Research has been limited, because these deep-sea monsters do not survive well in shallower waters. And don't worry, Aruba swimmers: even with those long arms, a giant squid has never grabbed a human.






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Posted on 2012-09-27, By: *

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