What They Can Do Without Bones…

Picture courtesy of NOAA Ocean Explorer

The D2 moves along the rock face and stops to zoom in on an interestingly carved cavity. Inside is a light blue blob resembling an octopus with its tentacles curled around its body.

Though we expected a variety of fish as I mentioned in my last post, we did not expect to see so many cephalopods, i.e. octopus and squid. The detail the cameras on D2 were able to pick up was incredible. Take a look at the picture below.

Picture courtesy of NOAA Ocean Explorer

Notice the eye. Cephalopods, which literally means “head-foot”, have very intricate eyes, complete with a retina, cornea, iris, and lens. They are also capable of coordinating and storing information. I suppose that’s why they have been known to work themselves out of their tanks when kept as pets. They are also able to open jars. If you don’t believe me, look it up on YouTube. They are amazing creatures!

Picture courtesy of NOAA Ocean Explorer

Here is an adorable picture of a bobtail squid. The squid has the ability to pull its tentacles under its body to appear as merely a head. Someone mentioned it looked almost cartoon-like, which reminds me of the Goofy cartoon where he learns to water ski. If you’ve seen it, you know what I mean. (Visit this post for another picture of a bobtail squid).

Picture courtesy of NOAA Ocean Explorer

During the last leg of the trip, the D2 got some good imaging of a few giant squid, or at least that is what I believe them to have called it. Just to clarify, they are “giant” in classification, not always in size. This guy was probably between 8 and 16 inches.

The first squid was dining on some unknown creature and took evasive maneuvers to avoid the ROV. It remained in view for a good many seconds before finally shooting past the ROV and out of sight. The squid uses its back fins to swim but what gives it the most advantage is its ability to siphon water and press it back out with such pressure as to send it off in the opposite direction with staggering speed. This ability is shared by all cephalopods.

Another specimen noted was this one in the picture above. Its colors continually shifted from soft to brilliant even though it remained sitting on the sediment. This was explained by an onshore scientist participating: Apparently, each tiny pigment is controlled by a muscle which contracts to make it broad and relaxes to narrow it. So obviously, when the squid is very agitated, the colors tend to change quicker and more frequently.

This is just a sample of what we learned while watching the expedition. And though we were sad to see it end we have now tapped onto another expedition on the Nautilus in the Caribbean. The water is definitely warmer but just as fascinating!

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