Scientists have filmed for the first time a bizarre and rarely seen species of deep sea squid in the wild.
The three-inch squid from Arieshorn, also known as Spirula spirula, lives at depths of over 3,000 feet and is rarely seen in its natural habitat due to its small size. They are named after their spiral-shaped skeletons, which are often washed up on beaches, and the species is found throughout the tropical Atlantic and Indo-Western Pacific.
Researchers from the Schmidt Ocean Institute filmed the species off the coast of Australia and later posted the video on Twitter, saying they had “exciting news”.
“This seems to be the FIRST observation of Spirula, alias Aries horn squid, alive + in its natural environment”, it wrote, “Very rarely seen or captured, they have many extinct relatives, but are only a living member of the genus Spirula, family Spirulidae, and the order Spirulida”.
Exciting news! This seems to be the FIRST observation of Spirula, also known as ram’s horn squid, living in its natural environment. Very rarely seen or captured, they have many extinct relatives, but are only a living member of the genus Spirula, family Spirulidae, and order Spirulida. 1/3 picture.twitter.com/re4rZyRuER
– Schmidt Ocean (@SchmidtOcean) October 27, 2020
According to ScienceAlert, Schmidt researchers discovered the creature when they used a remote-controlled vehicle in the Great Barrier Reef. They filmed at a depth of almost 2,800 feet.
For about a minute, the film shows the squid swimming in the depths before it falls out of sight at breakneck speed.
The discovery came as the researchers continued a huge mapping project of the reef. On Monday, the organization announced the discovery of an enormous free-standing coral reef – the first to be discovered in over 100 years.
In a statement on the discovery, Wendy Schmidt, co-founder of the institute, said that new technologies “reveal the ecosystems and diverse life forms that share the planet with us.
Other important discoveries made by the Institute during the project include the longest marine animal ever recorded, a 147-foot siphonophore, and the first observation of a rare scorpion fish.
The screenshot shows the ramhead squid, filmed for the first time in the wild off the coast of Australia.
Schmidt Ocean Institute
The pictures of the ram’s horn squid inspired the marine scientists. Neige Pascal from the University of Burgundy in France told ScienceAlert that the body position of the spirula is remarkable. “Are we absolutely sure about the orientation of the shoot? If so, this is a king of the revolution,” he said on the website. “Many people are freaking out because the head is up. And they freak out because the bowl with its buoyancy is at the other end of the squid. So you might think that the head, which is heavier, is hanging down.”
Michael Vecchione, who studies mid-water squid at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, told ScienceAlert that squid has a length-emitting organ that appears in the video at the tip of the squid.
Its orientation is highly unusual for animals and is now a key issue for this rarely seen species. Vecchione said, however, that more observations are needed.
As this is the first footage ever, scientists may have to wait a while until they see one again….