Image of the Day: Vampire Squid
Image of the Day: Vampire Squid

Image of the Day: Vampire Squid

The unusual cephalopod was spotted on a recent underwater research expedition.

Sep 11, 2019
Emily Makowski

ABOVE: A vampire squid (Vampyroteuthis infernalis) spotted at a depth of 820 meters in the Monterey Bay was collected for study by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.
MBARI (2019)

Last month, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute’s Bioinspiration Lab coordinated an expedition in the Monterey Bay to study animals in the ocean’s midwater, also known as the twilight zone. One such specimen MBARI scientists spotted was the vampire squid (Vampyroteuthis infernalis).

Animals that live in the twilight zone have specialized adaptations for survival deep below the surface of the water. The twilight zone is a dark, cold environment with scarce food. The vampire squid doesn’t suck blood; instead, it eats detritus that falls into the twilight zone from shallow waters, and it is the only cephalopod known to do so.

Located within the twilight zone is an area of extremely low oxygen called the oxygen minimum zone. The vampire squid has a low metabolic rate and blood that binds oxygen efficiently. “[The vampire squid is] the quintessential deep-sea midwater animal— perfectly adapted for life in the oxygen minimum zone,” Susan von Thun, a senior research technician at MBARI’s video lab who was on the expedition, tells The Scientist in an email. 

The squid in the video above was collected for further study. Others collected by MBARI have made their way to the public—in 2014, MBARI and the Monterey Bay Aquarium put a vampire squid on display for the first time. 

Emily Makowski is an intern at The Scientist. Email her at emakowski@the-scientist.com.