(ORDO NEWS) — This is a big and scary ocean. When you’re still just a tiny embryonic squid, there are many things that might want to eat you for lunch.
One strategy employed by various squid species is to protect their eggs with a huge ball of gelatinous, slippery mucus. Some lay their eggs directly on the seabed. But at least one squid seems to have a different strategy.
Recent footage taken by researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in the constant darkness of the bathypelagic depths revealed a rare sight: a deep-sea squid of the genus Bathyteuthis carries a delicate, lace-like sheet of hundreds of eggs as it swims through frigid waters.
The use of remotely controlled vehicles has allowed scientists to see a whole new world in the hostile darkness and crushing depths under the rays of the Sun.
The new footage comes from a recent dive with the Ricketts Doc, which is equipped with 4K cameras to capture high-resolution images of any wildlife it might encounter down there in the dark.
The mother squid seen in pitch darkness at a depth of 1,390 meters (4,560 ft) is only the second time scientists have seen the Bathyteuthis squid displaying this brooding behavior.
The first was in 2005, when they observed another squid, Bathyteuthis, also in the depths of Monterey Bay, carrying a leaf containing about 360 eggs.
Octopuses are known for keeping their eggs and protecting them until the tragic end. But only three species of squid are known to breed, and while it’s not entirely clear what the reason is, it’s most likely to keep the precious babies away from nasty predators.
Scientists believe that other squids hatching offspring may exist in the depths of the ocean, which are difficult to observe; There’s a lot going on there that we don’t know about.
It is likely that squid mothers like this one will continue to carry their eggs until they hatch to give the chicks the best chance of survival. However, squids, like octopuses, are semepoles – they breed only once in their lives before they die. (Vampire squids can breed multiple times, but… they’re not really squids.)
This means that protecting her eggs so they can grow into a strong and healthy new generation of squid is probably one of the last things this caring mum does.
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