This deep-sea critter looks like a toy!
The latest footage from the E/V Nautilus’ exploration voyage off the shore of California captures a small, purple creature sitting on the ocean floor, frozen like a squid in headlights.
“It looks like some little kid dropped their toy,” one of the scientists onboard jokes.
“Look at those googly eyes!” exclaims another.
The scientists comment that the large-eyed creature is likely a cuttlefish, and though it has since been identified as a stubby squid, they weren’t far off. Despite the name, stubby squid are more closely related to cuttlefish than they are to either squid or octopuses.
Native to the northern Pacific, stubby squid are nocturnal predators and usually sit atop the seabed waiting for prey. This critter was spotted at a depth of 900 meters (2,950 feet); however, other researchers have seen the species as deep as 1,300m (4,265 feet).
“In the deep sea there’s not very much light,” says Michael Vecchione, a cephalopod expert at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. “People tend to think that it’s completely dark down there, but there is light that’s produced by other organisms, so having big eyes lets you gather as much light as possible.”
In the daytime, stubby squid are known to bury themselves in the sand, with only their eyes peering out for danger.
Check out E/V Nautilus’ live feed to keep up with their ongoing ocean exploration.