Scientists using a remotely-operated vehicle to explore the depths of Gulf of Mexico on Friday marveled at the sight of rarely-observed vampire squid, swimming lazily above the sea floor.
The sighting was documented by the crew aboard EVNautilus, and the footage shows the fascinating cephalopod moving slowly, yet gracefully in the gentle current.
According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which last month acquired a vampire squid, they're an ancient species that possess characteristics of a squid and an octopus. Its Latin name, Vampyroteuthis infernalis, translates to “vampire squid from hell.”
Contrary to its name, however, the vampire squid does not eat blood. Rather, it scavenges largely on marine snow—organic detritus—and decaying animal carcasses.
The richly colored critter boasts incredibly large eyes and can turn itself inside out to escape predators. Vampire squid are thought to reside at lightless depths between 2,000 and 3,000 feet.
Aside from the Gulf of Mexico, they've been observed in the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez) and off Monterey Bay. The EVNautilus is studying the impacts of oil and gas inputs into the Gulf of Mexico.