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The elusive ram horn squid has finally been captured on film. Early in the week of Oct. 26, 2020, scientists accidentally filmed the creature in its natural habitat. The ram horn squid swam into view of the vehicle named SuBastian.
SuBastian was remotely operated above the water by pilot Jason Rodriguez and co-pilot, Kris Ingram. The pair carefully navigated the vehicle closer to the odd creature to examine it further. The ram horn squid wiggled and spurted away several times before the camera could finally focus on it.
The ram horn squid appeared to be the length of a breakfast sausage, with paper-thin fins and one large curious eye. Marine biologist Dhugal Lindsay watched everything on YouTube Livestream from his office; located in Kanagawa in the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (Jamestec).
Lindsay had zoomed in to narrate the objects that SuBastian picked up with its camera. Previously the vehicle had spotted an Apolemia siphonophore — a colonial animal which resembles a string of fairy lights — and a 16-tentacled jellyfish.
At first, the burrito-like creature was a mystery due to the fuzzy Zoom feed. The ram horn squid measured just under 3 inches. It has eight arms, a set of bulging eyes, and two tentacles. It truly looked like one of Jim Henson’s creations.
Hidden below the ram horn squid’s mantle is a tightly wounded internal shell equipped with gas chambers. The animal uses this gas to manipulate its buoyancy. The ram horn squid was found close to the Great Barrier Reef at a depths of 2,790 feet.
For many years now the ram horn squid’s shells have been found along shorelines. However, this is the first time the elusive animal has been filmed. Upon seeing the animal on the video feed one scientist is heard exclaiming, “What on Earth?”
A zoologist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History named Mike Vecchione had been viewing the SuBastian dive earlier in the day. When the feed glitched Vecchione decided to call it a day. Around 10:30 p.m. (EST) he received a call from biologist Christopher Mah saying, “Mike Vecchione, they’re calling you on the squid phone.”
Once Vecchione took one look at the animal, he instantly knew what it was; a Spirula spirula — the ram horn squid. Footage of the animal has since gone viral. Scientists everywhere are excited about this discovery.
Written by Sheena Robertson
The New York Times: ‘They’re Calling You on the Squid Phone’; Sabrina Imbler
Science Alert: Scientists Are Freaking Out Over The First-Ever Footage of This Bizarre Squid; CARLY CASSELLA
Top and Featured Image by James St. John Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License