Sometimes you just gotta punch deep-sea squid with a toilet brush

Nothing makes my day like scientists attaching a toilet bowl cleaner to an ROV in order to prank some squid. Watch them scare the crap out of this Octopoteuthis:

Before we get any further, let’s get something out of the way: “We attached NON-USED toilet brushes to the ROV”, emphasizes the lead author Dr. Stephanie Bush [1]. And now that we’re all clear on the cleanliness of this project (cuz really who wouldn’t react this way if punched by a dirty toilet brush?), the next obvious question would be: ok but why? Because, as it turns out, squid hate the feeling of bristles, and a pokey brush is startling enough to warrant a little jiggly dance. But that’s not the only reason: when Octopoteuthis feels threatened, it not only wiggles threateningly, it can also pop off the end of its arms. To study this, Dr. Bush hypothesized that it needed to hook its arms to something for resistance, similar to the way a lizard pops off its tail only if something is holding on . And thus reason #2 for the toilet brush: it not only startles squid, it also gives them something to latch onto. Once the arm tips pop off, they keep twitching like little creepy worms, and will even glow and flash using bioluminescence, distracting the predators (and scientists) long enough for the squid to make a clean break.

I really do think I’m in love with this squid. Luckily for this species it doesn’t occur on the surface, otherwise I’d make special trips to the beach just to sneak up and scare them with various household appliances. In lieu of such reckless awesomeness, I present the next best thing:

 

Work Cited

[1] Behaving in the Dark: Locomotor, Chromatic, Postural, and Bioluminescent Behaviors of the Deep-Sea Squid Octopoteuthis deletron Young 1972

http://www.biolbull.org/content/216/1/7.short

 

RR Helm (32 Posts)

I am a PhD candidate studying jellyfish development and evolution at Brown University. I've participated in numerous research expeditions, studying jellies all over the world, from Africa to the abyss. I am currently studying the beautiful mauve stinger jellies, found in the Mediterranean, and the ghostly Atlantic stinging nettles found on the US east coast.