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Recent Research – Some Squid Use Glowing Bacteria as Camouflage

Hawaiian Bobtail SquidIt’s no secret that cephalopods have amazing skill at camouflaging themselves to avoid predation. You may have seen the unique tactics of the mimic octopus in recent years, or you may have been lucky enough to see a squid or cuttlefish in action, changing color and skin texture with lightning-quick speed. Their abilities are intriguing to us and necessary for their survival in the big ocean blue.

I recently read an article discusses the relationship between the Hawaiian Bobtail Squid (Euprymna scolopes) and a light-producing bacteria known as Vibrio fischeri. The Bobtail Squid is a small, shallow-water squid that hides in the sand during the day and comes out at night to find food. This cephalopod has found a way to help it hide itself from predators while it hunts, by attracting and utilizing these glowing bacteria! The squid uses a special organ to attract the luminescent bacteria, which are used to populate the squid’s underside. The bacteria subtly lights up creating a hue that is about the same intensity as the moonlight coming through the water’s surface, eliminating the dark shadow that a predator below would normally see. The bacterial coating makes the squid almost invisible as it looks for its food! This is similar to the counter-shading found in many fish (dark on top, light on bottom coloration makes them harder to see) but way cooler!

A video states that researchers are studying the relationship between the squid and the bacteria for possible applications in human/bacterial interactions in the medical or military technology. Its no Klingon Cloaking Device….but its getting there!

Thanks for reading,


Hawaiian Bobtail Squid image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Nhobgood

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About Eileen Daub

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Marine Biologist/Aquatic Husbandry Manager I was one of those kids who said "I want to be a marine biologist when I grow up!"....except then I actually became one. After a brief time at the United States Coast Guard Academy, I graduated from Coastal Carolina University in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in 2004. Since then, I've been a marine biologist at That Fish Place - That Pet Place, along with a Fish Room supervisor, copywriter, livestock inventory controller, livestock mail-order supervisor and other duties here and there. I also spent eight seasons as a professional actress with the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire and in other local roles. If that isn't bad enough, I'm a proud Crazy Hockey Fan (go Flyers and go Hershey Bears!).