the name ‘loligo opalescens’ has been stuck in my brain for weeks, ever since one of my friends texted it to me. it’s just such an appealing combination of syllables that it keeps rolling around. loligoopalescens loligoopalescens loligoopalescens loligoopalescens
like many squid, loligos have cromatophores in their skin, which allow them to change colours, for camouflage and communication (hence the second part of their latin name, opalescens, which in english reads ‘opalescent’).
this video shows cromatophores up close, and although this video is of a loligo opalescens cousin, loligo pealeii, they are so closely related that they can be misidentified as one another, so it’s suitable to show you the cromatophores functioning up close.
these squid are quite small–their mantle length is generally 12-19 cm in length, with total length rarely exceeding 30 cm. they also have peculiar habit when mating that makes them easy prey for fishermen: they gather in huge groups near the surface of the water. during the night, fishermen shine lights at the water, which lures the squid right into their nets. if you have ever eaten calamari, you have eaten these guys (one of their common names is ‘california market squid’). seems like kind of a shame, because squids are pretty smart, as far as invertebrates go, and their skin-colour-shifts are s incredible!! buuuut what do i know, i am just a vegan does not eat animals because she loves them…
anyway, more about sweet little loligo! they have ink, just like other squid. loligo also has VENOM with which it paralyzes its victims before killing them by removing their heads. kiind of metal, right?
three gross facts:
– loligo opalescens egg clusters can take up acres of the sea floor, because females are more likely to deposit their eggs in spots where there are already eggs. this is gross, because eggs. just, yuck.
– the eggs are placed in a sheath, which can be several metres long. ‘sheath’ is one of those words, along with ‘moist’ and ‘clutch’ that i just don’t want to hear or read, ever.
– loligos are cannibalistic! yes, this is common in the animal kingdom, and even occurs in humans, but god damn, it is still off-putting.