This Squid Can Fly!

japanese flying squidTodarodes pacificus, also known as the Japanese flying squid.

Photo: Wikipedia user Almandine

A marine animal known colloquially as the Japanese flying squid, Todarodes pacificus, has been known to fly out of the water and take to the air. It’s “flights” last up to three seconds.Researchers had heard about this amazing ability of the squid to fly, obviously since it’s named “flying squid” but had never actually documented it in the literature, or analysed how it does it. Supposedly they’ve been observed to “fly” up to 30 meters at a time.

“There were always witnesses and rumours that said squid were seen flying, but no one had clarified how they actually do it. We have proved that it really is true,” study researcher Jun Yamamoto, of Hokkaido University, told the AFP.

They propel themselves with a forceful spray of water from their bodies. As i09 reports:

Back in July 2011, Yamamoto and his team were tracking a large group of squid (Todarodes pacificus, also known as neon flying squid) about 370 miles (600 km) off the coast of Tokyo. As the boat got nearer, the 8-inch (20 cm) squid propelled themselves from the water where they remained airborne for a distance of 98 feet (30 meters) — and at the breakneck speed of 37 feet per second (11.2 m/s).

In comparison, Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt runs about 10.31 meters per second. The squid supposedly do it to escape predators.

They aren’t just jumping out of the water either. They use their fins to stay aloft.

“Once they finish shooting out the water, they glide by spreading out their fins and arms,” the AFP says the authors said in the report. “The fins and the web between the arms create aerodynamic lift and keep the squid stable on its flight arc. As they land back in the water, the fins are all folded back into place to minimize the impact.”

The researchers announced the finding Friday, Feb 8, and the research will be published later this week in the journal Marine Biology.

squid flyingSquid flying in the air in the northwest Pacific Ocean.

Photo: Image taken by Kouta Muramatsu of Hokkaido University

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