Leaping Squid

At bookofjoe there is a nice write up about squid flying out of water.

The 2004 paper’s authors argue that “gliding” is too passive a term to describe what squid do when they leave the ocean for the air: “flight” is more fitting. “From our observations it seemed like squid engage in behaviors to prolong their flight,” Maciá says. “One of our co-authors saw them actually flapping their fins. Some people have seen them jetting water while in flight. We felt that ‘flight’ is more appropriate because it implies something active.”

The paper here is New observations on airborne jet propulsion (flight) in squid, with a review of previous reports (You can download a copy of the paper from the author’s website).

Squid attain some of their most dramatic speeds and accelerations during escape responses, known as escape jetting. This occurs by water jet propulsion.  The main body of the squid, referred to as the mantle, is highly muscular.  Indeed, squids are essentially free-living muscles!  Squids take water into their body cavity and by contracting the muscle can quickly and forcibly expel it through the tubular siphon. A squid as the ability to control the direction of this siphon much like the jet engines on a Harrier Jet.  This same jetting can propel a squid out of the water (see above photo). From the study above, the researchers calculated one squid reached just over 16 miles per hour in the air from jetting.

Macia, S. (2004). New observations on airborne jet propulsion (flight) in squid, with a review of previous reports Journal Molluscan Studies, 70 (3), 297-299 DOI: 10.1093/mollus/70.3.297

Dr. M (1720 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, created to facilitate research to address fundamental questions in evolutionary science. He has conducted deep-sea research for 11 years and published over 40 papers in the area. He has participated in dozens of expeditions taking him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses mainly on marine systems and particularly the biology of body size, biodiversity, and energy flow. He focuses often on deep-sea systems as a natural test of the consequences of energy limitation on biological systems. He is the author and chief editor of Deep-Sea News, a popular deep-sea themed blog, rated the number one ocean blog on the web and winner of numerous awards. Craig’s popular writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.

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