Vampire Squid Video Reveals What These Infernal Cephalopods Eat

© MBARI (still shot from video embedded below)

Ever since the first blood red squid, hauled up from the depths of the sea, fixed an eerie blue eye on its captor, people have been fascinated by these strange creatures. The squid's scientific name, Vampyroteuthis infernalis, translates from the Latin as "vampire squid from hell" -- a name earned when the beast turns the cloke-like webbing between its eight arms inside-out, revealing dozens of "cirri" that appear to be teeth-like appendages and putting on a fireworks display of bioluminescence.

Scary Squids are Detritivores

Before this video, vampire squid stirred up vivid imaginations of helpless prey cowering before this imposing creature. All known cephalopods were thought to hunt live prey.

The truth, it turns out, is quite the opposite. Vampire squid actually drift along weightlessly on ocean currents, extending long filaments that collect marine "snow", dead organic detritus sinking to the bottoms of the ocean. The vampire squid pulls the filament back through their arms, causing the organic matter to fall off into the beast's mouth.

Scientists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) verified their theory that this is how the vampire squid eats by checking the stomach contents to confirm that no remains of bones or shells indicate consumption of live prey.

The MBARI researchers concluded: "the vampire squid's filament is likely a multifunctional organ that is deployed to detect and capture detrital matter but at the same time may detect the presence of predators and perhaps small living prey."

See for yourself. The vampire squid's sinister appearance versus its sustainable diet proves you can't judge a book by its cover.

Tags: California | Fish | Oceans

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