Thursday 27 September 2012

Vampire Squid Feeds on Filth!

Image: Richard E. Young
That's a mouth, that is
Turns out everyone's favourite blue-eyed beauty is a filth feeder!

The diet of this deep sea cephalopod has long been a mystery. Other squid, octopus and cuttlefish are predators of fish and crustaceans, but the Vampire Squid has always been perfectly comfortable being utterly unique.

They use their flabby body and slothful ways to survive in the incredibly low oxygen levels found at depths of 900 m (3,000 ft). Now, Henk-Jan Hoving and Bruce Robison from MBARI have discovered how they can eat without having to do all that tedious "moving" which we all find so exhausting.

Along with their 8 arms, Vampire Squid have a pair of thin, thread-like filaments that can be up to 8 times longer than their 30 cm (1 ft) body. Extending one of these out into the water, they allow it to get covered in the slowly descending precipitation of dead bodies, faeces and general muck known as marine snow.

Once covered in this unsavoury nastiness, the Vampire Squid draws the filament back in, uses mucus secreted by its suckers to bundle up the filth into a bite-sized morsel, and then eats it.

Basically, they're like Sea Cucumbers, except they don't eat it off the floor.

Finally! Now that you know their terrible defect and that they're not just a perfect bundle of gelatinous lovely, you can TRULY love them!