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 (1729 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (http://deepseanews.com/), a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (http://www.scienceofthesouth.com/), connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

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