Halloween may be over, but it’s not too late to talk about vampires! (It’s NEVER too late to talk about vampires.)
Near-invisible wraiths who haunt in total darkness, seizing their prey with their fanged arms and distracting their enemies with bioluminescent… Oh, what? That doesn’t sound like a typical vampire, you say? Well, that’s because I’m talking about the…
Who does all of these, and more.
Found only in the abyssal deeps, the Vampire Squid is neither a squid or an octopus but something archaic doomed to forever haunt the veil between. OOOoooOOOoooh! Something unspeakable- squid, but not squid.
Its foot-long gelatinous body is usually black or red, with haunting red eyes and 8 tentacle arms lined with barbs connected by a thick web of skin. It glides through the water silently by flapping the two small fins on the sides of its head like the wings of a bat. Just like a real vampire. (Though if it bites you I’m reasonably sure you won’t turn into one.) To add to this formidable weaponry, the vampire squid is almost completely covered in light-producing photophores! This is a kind of light-producing organ that the Vampire Squid can use to blind, misdirect, and confuse other predators. Just like a real vampire. (CREATURES OF THE NIGHT, COME WATCH THIS SICK LIGHTSHOW.)
In fact, one of its favorite tricks is to fake a pair of glowing eyes with its photophores by creating two bright dots on the back of its head that quickly diminish in size. This gives the optical illusion that the squid is quickly getting farther away and escaping, while it’s actually just hanging there in the water column trying really hard to fool you. Just like a real vampire.
VOOSH! I AM ESCAPING!
If these attempts fail, the Vampire Squid’s last ditch defense is to literally turn itself inside out and become spikes. No, seriously. they raise their cloak webbed arms up and over their body, presenting their attacker with the realization that this delicious spooky snack has suddenly become a football made of spikes. (These spikes are actually soft and leathery but BOY do they look scary.) Just like a real- okay, we’ll stop now. this is a little too weird even for us.
So the next time you happen to be passing through the Low-Oxygen Zone between 2,000-3,000 ft in a temperate or tropical ocean, and you see a faint, glimmering light approaching… Well, be sure you have your crucifix ready.
1. Albert; Guerne, Jules de; Richard, Jules, Wikimedia Commons
2. Chun C, Wikimedia Commons
3. D. Sikes, Flickr