What’s Kraken-ating?

kraken

Image: Colossal Octopus by Pierre Denys de Montfort

A kraken has been captured on film!

To be more accurate, the creature that spawned the Kraken myth, the giant squid (Genus: Architeuthis), has been videoed. Found in the deepest of oceans, the giant squid intrigued and frightened even the bravest of fisherman for decades. As such, it became the stuff of legends and featured in many classic novels such as Moby Dick andTwenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. We now have far greater knowledge about giant squid through hauling them up in nets and performing dissections. They are found worldwide, are carnivorous and have a weird mating system; males deposit sperm packages on the arms of females and females probably can store sperm for long periods.

Despite these fascinating discoveries, no-one has ever filmed one in its natural environment … until now! Japanese zoologist, Tsunemi Kubodera, captured the graceful creature in about 600m of water, 1,000km south of Tokyo. They have searched for these squid for hundreds of hours and were finally successful in July 2012. The intriguing creature they spied was 3 metres long, only half the size of the largest ever seen!

Grab yourself a sneak peak here and make sure you tune into the Discovery Channel on January 27th to see the much awaited footage!

Eye Sea You

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Photo (c) Amanda Franklin

Mantis shrimp, sometimes known as insects of the ocean, are found in tropical areas all around the globe as well as some subtropical areas.  Their dazzling colours make them a beautiful creature to observe on a reef, however there is more to these colours than meets the human eye.

The stomatopod visual system is the most complex visual system known in the animal kingdom.  They have up to 16 visual pigments (we have 3) and have the ability to see ultraviolet, infrared, linearly polarised and circularly polarised light. Without getting too complex, polarised light is when light waves vibrate in the same direction, rather than many different directions.  Stomatopods are the only known animals which can see circularly polarised light.  Furthermore, some have coloured patches on their bodies that can reflect linearly or circularly polarised light.

So why such a complex visual system? And why do they have polarised patches on their body?  It may be a ‘private channel’ communication system. Predators can’t tune in, and other stomatopods gain useful information undetected! What an ideal way to communicate!