When I think of squids, I don’t think of squids glowing in the dark. Typically, what I would imagine is my fifth grade field trip to the Vancouver Aquarium, when my class witnessed and participated in a squid dissection. We were all disgusted at the stench of dead squids, yet it was truly intriguing to see ink oozing out from them after repeated probing. Having been inspired after watching an ocean-related documentary Mission Blue on Netflix, I saw a diverse community of marine organisms and realized that I actually didn’t know much about the ocean waters or the different kinds of squids that live in them.
More specifically, I was fascinated about one specific species from the family of Enoploteuthidae, the abraliopsis morisii, or abraliopsis squid. Similar to most organisms that live in the deep waters, abraliopsis squids are bioluminescent. Bioluminescence is the process of light energy being produced through a chemical reaction in an organism. It can happen when an organism’s body contains luciferin, a molecule that reacts to oxygen and makes light. Many of these organisms also have the ability to produce luciferase, a chemical that speeds up the reaction of the bioluminescence.
The species are present in the warmer areas of the Atlantic Ocean such as Gulf of Mexico and the Mediterranean Sea. They have been found and observed from 49 and 11,212 ft underwater in the oceans, which has an extremely large difference in range. Underneath the bodies of abraliopsis squids, they contain small light-producing organs called photophores. Photophores are able to produce light when organisms obtain compounds during digestion after devouring their prey. The main uses for these organs are to attract potential food and prey, and the other to confuse predators when they glow intermittently. Abraliopsis squids use the light they produce to blend in with the sky when there are potential predators under them– which is a method of camouflage called counter-illumination.
This species has been categorized by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as a least-concern species, so hopefully we’ll be seeing more photos of abraliopsis squids on the internet soon!