You’re on a family vacation on a cruise. You notice something soaring above sea level, you yell “It’s an airplane! It’s a bird!”. However, when you take a closer look, you realize it’s a small squid. We all know that squids are very fascinating sea creatures. Not only are these cephalopods extremely fast swimmers, they can also change colour, and even shoot ink to cloud the water and lose predators. In addition, some are capable of flying? Yes, this is certainly a strange phenomenon, but it is true.
In 1947, explorers discovered “flying squid” while exploring the Pacific Ocean. During their expedition, they noticed small squid kept appearing on the roof of their boat and some soaring above the sea. These squid are known as the Japanese flying squid, or Pacific flying squid. They are found in northern portions of the Pacific Ocean near Korea, Japan, coastal China, Russia, and across the Bering Strait toward parts of Alaska and Canada. Japanese flying squids are around 203-255mm in size, flying more than a hundred feet through the air. While these squids can glide up to 11.2 meters per second, Olympic Gold medallist Usain Bolt averaged 10.31 metres a second when he won at the London Games. Even so, Japanese flying squids can fly faster than the speed of Usain Bolt when it’s escaping predators.
How do these squid go from swimming to flying?
According to Hokkaido University’s research, the flight of the squid is divided into four phases: launching, jetting, gliding, and diving.
Initially, the squid opens up their mantle and draws in water, then launch themselves into the air by jet propulsion. To form wings, the squid spread out both their fins and their tentacles. The squid have a membrane to help them create an aerodynamic lift so they can glide (similar to a paper airplane). Scientists believe that flying is another tactic the squids use to escape from sea predators. However, by flying, it also becomes vulnerable to other predators, such as birds.
In Biology, I found cephalopods to be very fascinating sea creatures. As a result, when I heard about the “Japanese flying squid”, I wanted to write a blog on it. Now, you can say that squids are no longer only sea creatures, but air as well!