The incredible red squid above — aptly named the strawberry squid — was just caught fluorescing on camera in its natural habitat for the first time ever.
Researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute discovered that under a bright blue light, the normally bright-red and strawberry-looking squid glows an eerie blue. Especially its unique, single giant eye.
This glowing — called bioluminescence — may help animals hide from or distract predators, attract prey, and help make prey easier to spot. This eye catching strawberry squid uses fluorescence to blend in and also to detect prey, according to the video.
The squid, and many other deep sea creatures, use their bioluminescence to light up the underside of their body with a dim glow — a strategy called counter illumination — to disguise themselves from predators below.
Normally a predator would look up and see the dark shadow of the squid blocking the light from the surface. But the glow illuminates the animal to match the light coming from above, effectively rendering it invisible.
Despite a lot of creatures using bioluminescence, from this strawberry squid to the firefly, researchers still don’t understand a lot of its functions.
That’s not the only interesting thing about this squid, though. The eye on the squid’s right side is small and the left eye is enormous. Check it out:
The blue glow of the eyeball comes from the high energy blue light from the unmanned submarine recording the scene, exciting fluorescent pigments inside the eye.
Here’s another shot of the giant eye and glowing skin:
The researchers think the squid uses this big eye to better spot the silhouettes of prey above it. The squid’s eye absorbs blue light, letting it see non-blue wavelengths easier.
If a fish swimming above the squid glows more green than its surroundings, then the squid can spot it easier after its eye filters out the blue light.
Check it out:
Watch the entire strawberry squid video, uploaded to YouTube by MBARI, here:
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