Squid Facts ~ Squid FAQ

by Robert Cheney

in Sea Life, Squid

Is a squid a fish?
No. Squid are cephalopods along with octopuses, cuttlefish and nautiluses. Fish have backbones while cephalopds do not. Squids do possess a rudimentary cartilage that runs along the length of their mantle that resembles a backbone.

How many species of squid are there?

How long do squid live?
6 months for the smaller squid and up to 5 years for the larger ones.

What is the largest and smallest squid?
The smallest squid is the pygmy squid (in video below) which can be less than an inch long while the largest is the colossal squid which can approach 50 feet in length an weigh more than a 100 lbs.

What do squid eat?
Squid  of all sizes are carnivores and feed on fish, crabs, floating animal debris and other squids.

What color is squid blood?
Blue. They use copper as opposed to iron (that produces the red color) in their blood-carrying molecules.Reef Squid

What is the anatomy of a squid?

  • 8 arms and only the tentacles have suckers
  • Three hearts
  • They have a distinct head with a large brain, a mantle, 8 arms and 2 feeding tentacles
Squid Anatomy

Squid Anatomy

What is the most abundant squid in the ocean?
The market squid. They are located up and down the North American coast from Alaska to the Baja peninsula. They grow to 8 inches and are commonly served as calamari in seafood restaurants. They live in shallow waters close to the shore and may live up to a year.

How big are the eyes of the giant squids?
They are as big as basketballs in fully grown giant and colossal squid. Theses huge eyes offer no benefit in hunting but instead alert them to the  tiny bioluminescent animals that light up when disturbed by the presence of a giant and colossal squid’s main predator, the sperm whale. They are possibly the largest animal eyes that have ever existed.

Giant Squid Eye

This giant squid was caught about 10 miles off the shores of Oahu, Hawaii, in 1981. The pupil of its eye measured more than 3.5 inches across. (look real?)
– Current Biology

What does calamari mean?
It’s Greek for cooked squid

Does a squid swim faster than an octopus?
Yes. They both use water-jet propulsion but due to its more torpedo-shaped body most squid are faster swimmers than octopuses.

Do squid squirt ink like an octopus?
Both of these cephalopds use ink when being chased as a distraction to their attacker. The ink is not dangerous and is edible.
They can also change colors like an octopus.

How does a squid squirt ink?
They have a 2 ink sacs: A main ink sac in the body and another smaller one behind the eyes. The ink produced is not poisonous, is made of melanin and mixed with mucus before being ejected. After it is ejected, the squid shoot out a  a jet of water to disperse the ink and make the ink cloud larger.

Squid Ink Sac

A dissected arrow squid, showing the ink sac inside the mantle.1

What are some of the common species of squid?

  • Market squid – smaller squid
  • Humboldt squid – Nicknamed the vampire squid. A large, ferocious squid that has attacked sharks at times
  • Colossal squid – largest squid
  • Giant squad – 2nd largest squid
  • Vampire squid –  turns itself inside out to avoid predators. See video below:

Do squid die after mating?
Yes. Most, if not all species of squid including the giant and colossal squid die soon after the female releases her eggs. Some male species might be able to continuously mate throughout their life. More research on squid reproduction is needed to confirm this.

Do squid have teeth?
They have small teeth on the sides of their tongue. But their primary weapon is their beak which is similar to a parrot’s. They use it to catch its prey and tear it into manageable pieces.

Humboldt Squid Beak Photo: L.A. Cicero http://news.stanford.edu/news/2003/december3/cortezsquid-123.html

Humboldt Squid Beak
Photo: L.A. Cicero

Are squids poisonous?
Yes. They have a venomous bite but the poison is non-lethal to humans.

Do squids live in schools like fish or are they more solitary?
Both. Humboldt squid can form schools of a 1000+ while colossal and giants live solitary lives.

  1. http://squid.tepapa.govt.nz/anatomy/article/colossal-squid-the-inside-story
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