Can Squids Fly?


"It really looked like it was flying," said a professor at Barry University in Florida and marine biologist Silvia Maciá. She was referring not to a bird, but to a squid. Squid are usually expected to live near the bottom of the ocean, and considering, Marcia’s statement seemed quite odd.

Maciá and her husband, Michael Robinson, also a biologist, were boating near the northern coast of Jamaica during the summer of 2001. It was an ordinary day—until the couple noticed something catapulting out of the sea, that is. Maciá initially thought the creature must be a member of the flying fish family. But then realized the animal was a squid and saw its fins spread in a circle, as it were not simply airborne, but actually flying.

Following this wild experience, Maciá and Robinson asked other scientists who specialize in the study of mollusks to share their experiences with flying squid. Using these scientists’ responses, Maciá and Robinson then wrote and published an article in which they described six distinct flying squid species. These squids travel in and out of the ocean and over waves: sometimes they move solo, other times in pack. They can even match the speed of motor boats.

In their article, Maciá and Robinson detail how squids use jet propulsion to escape from predators. They also use jet propulsion to exit the water. First, they open their mantles to soak up water, and then they squirt the water out. A tube below the squid’s head acts like a funnel, and controls the direction in which it travels. Squid can reach a height of six feet high from the water’s surface and fly horizontally for 30 feet at a time.

Scientists like Maciá and Robinson continue to spread fascinating information about animals every day. Their experiences goes to show that a little curiosity can lead to a great wealth of new public knowledge!

[Source: Scientific American]

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