Monster Monday: Vampire Squid

Vampire Squid. Photo Credit: © Steve Downer, ardea.com/Pantheon

According to legend, vampires have the ability to transform into bats. Could it be that some of them actually turn into spooky, glowing creatures of the deep?

The vampire squid is a deep-sea monster with a reddish to purplish-black body and blue or red eyes. It has eight tentacle arms that web together like a vampire’s cloak, adding to its eerie appearance. Its name might conjure up images of Dracula, but this creature is neither a vampire nor a true squid. It is actually an ancient relative of squids and octopuses, and shares traits with both of these animals. And, as monsters go, it’s not very big. The body of an adult usually reaches only about 5 inches (13 centimeters) long. The arms can extend another 10 inches (25 centimeters).

Little or no sunlight reaches the depths where the vampire squid lives. However, the creature can produce its own light, an ability calledbioluminescence. When threatened, it glows while flailing its tentacles in a confusing display of light. Then, it releases a cloud of glowing snot, which it uses to distract predators and escape.

The vampire squid is not actually a bloodsucker, but it does have a horror show type of diet. It uses two threadlike filaments to capture and eat bits of decaying bodies, dung, and other material that sink down from shallower waters. It may also hunt small prey, such as copepods, wrapping its victims in its tentacle cloak before eating them. So, tiny sea creatures, beware of the ancient vampire lurking in the deep, dark waters!


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