A recent expedition by a team of researchers off the California coast resulted in one of the most unusual and one of the cutest videos ever recorded of a surprising deep sea critter, the so-called stubby squid.
The team was cruising along the ocean floor roughly 3,000’ feet below the surface when their camera caught a bright purple round ball, and a pair of big googly eyes staring back at them.
The encounter started to crack the researchers up, but what they found wasn’t a puppet or a long-lost toy, it was a unique cephalopod that is native to the Pacific Ocean, and which is also known as the bobtail squid or the Rossia pacifica.
Despite having the moniker “squid” in its name, the blobby little critter isn’t a true squid, although it is a close relation.
Relatively small and a deep purple color throughout, the biggest eye-catching element of this creature is, naturally, those large peepers which look like they were pasted on a fat and round head.
As it turns out, the big eyes aren’t that unusual, as marine life that tends to congregate in deeper waters where light is scarce generally have large eyes to better scour the terrain.
The stubby squid itself also isn’t particularly rare in the Pacific Ocean, although it does tend to tread pretty deep, in waters that reach beyond scuba diving depths.
Although, as the recent viral video shows, it is possible for a scuba diver to encounter the typically shy creature.
Despite its friendly appearance, the stubby squid is also a bit of a ferocious predator and a very clever one.
To find a meal, the stubby squid buries itself into the ocean floor sediment, with only the two big eyes peeping out of the sand or mud.
As a small fish or crustacean passes by, which has no inkling of the stubby squid’s presence, the tricky cephalopod attacks, ambushing the prey in one rapid movement.
The large eyes also help the stubby squid avoid being a meal itself, as it allows the creature to spot much larger predators well before they arrive.
It’s a common trait among the stubby squid as well as its relatives, as a wide range of squids, octopods and cuttlefishes that congregate in deep sea waters tend to have those distinctive giant orbs.
While the stubby squid is shy, in the video, it stands relatively frozen looking back at the brightly lit camera. The research team believes this lack of movement was deliberate, and that when encountered with a big dose of unnatural light, the stubby squid simply “froze” in an effort not to be seen.
But it certainly has been seen since it has made its debut, and the video that the Nautilus crew recorded is already making rounds on the internet, and garnering plenty of attention as people pause what they’re doing and ask “Holy cow, what is that?”
Stubby quid fans can see the video here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEhYJEQmExE), and visitors to the Pacific Ocean can up their chances of spotting one by heading to the deep.
Because these creatures are built for dark conditions, they’re fairly hard to spot without a big dose of light. But despite their subtle presence, rest assured that they’re around, and they’re looking out for you.