What Cthulhu Saw: Scientists Mount Camera To Big Squid To Watch It Flash

Sure, slapping a GoPro to one's self before performing an act of extreme... extremeness is definitely cool. But I'd like to raise the ante: how about we strap a camera to a huge squid instead so we can see what cephalopodan acts it gets up to beneath the waves?

William Gilly, of Standford University's marine laboratory, is already a step ahead of you. His team placed the National Geographic Society's "Crittercam" to a Humboldt squid, an aquatic denizen that can weigh up to 50kg and grow to a length of 1.5m. How do you go about fitting a Humboldt with it's very own camera? Gilly explains:

Then you need a way to attach it [the camera] to the squid and the way we've used is to sort of put the camera on a bathing suit -- a tube of stretchable nylon... it's actually a child's bathing suit, cut so it's a tube and then slipped over the fins so it can't come off again.

Well, I hope the other squids don't make fun of its choice of apparel.

About half-way through the video, you'll notice the squids start to flash from black-to-white. This isn't a problem with the recording -- what you're seeing is what scientist believe is a form of communication where the squid's skin cells, called "chromatophores", quickly alternate from red to white. What's amazing is that the cells do this synchronously, creating an visual amazing effect.

[YouTube, via Nature World News]

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    Seems like a waste that it's a black and white camera :(

      It not black and white, it appears to be a night vision camera since its would be too dark to see much and they don't want to scare creatures away by sticking a light on the camera.


    Couldn't listen to the audio, do they mention how deep the squids went?

    Last edited 31/03/13 4:15 pm

      No mention of how deep, just mentioning the colour shifting they do (black flashes you see on the squid)

      Humboldt squid usually reside in the upper Mesopelagic zone, between about 200 and 700 metres below sea level. Light reaches it, but it's not strong, certainly at their lowest depth it wouldn't be strong enough for an unassisted video camera to capture anything.

    this is awesome! now they need to do it with an arcturus :)

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