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The ocean is full of creatures we have yet to learn a lot about. For example, did you know that some squids brood their eggs? But rather than sit on them like a hen would do on land, they swim through the ocean carrying them in their arms. This unique behavior was captured on video by the team at the Schmidt Ocean Institute, which later shared this insightful footage.
The creature in the video is a black-eyed squid (Gonatus onyx), one of the few squid species known to exhibit this behavior. Hanging from her arms is a long cloth-like trail, which is actually a mass containing close to 3,000 eggs. “The large egg mass is suspended from hooks on the squid's clawed hooks, and while carrying it for several months, the cephalopod will go without feeding,” writes the Schmidt Ocean Institute team on Instagram.
The video was captured off the coast of Costa Rica, where the black-eyed squid can be found at depths above 6,200 feet. “Although they are neutrally buoyant (don’t require any effort to float or swim—they can conserve energy by remaining motionless) brooding squid cannot swim very quickly, and may be easy prey for deep-diving marine mammals,” the institute staff added. Given the small size of the squid—which have an average mantle length of about 4.7 inches–this is nothing short of a feat.
For many years, marine biologists thought that all squids lay their eggs in clusters on the seafloor, which would then develop and hatch independently. It wasn't until 2001 that Brad Seibel, a postdoctoral fellow at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, noticed this behavior with the help of a remotely operated submersible—upending what was know about these squids. Now, this video will help scientists learn more about these animals that call the ocean home.
A black-eyed squid was captured on video carrying nearly 3,000 eggs in her arms as she swam through the ocean off Costa Rica.
I’m a seafloor kind of girl, but the water column is pretty fab too. Check out this Gonatus onyx squid we saw – those are eggs in its arms! They will carry those (thousands?) of eggs for a few months. Amazing footage via @SchmidtOcean and our teams excellent timing. #octoodyssey pic.twitter.com/M7xPmEajCN
— Julie Huber, PhD (@JulesDeep) December 13, 2023