Squid Sex

Video copyright A. Franklin – not to be used without permission

Dumpling squid are as cute as their name suggests. But don’t let their looks deceive you, they’re feisty little buggers in the bedroom.  Mating is long, rough and regular. Males roughly grasp any passing female and begin pumping water into her mantle cavity (the mantle is the part you eat). Why he does this is not yet known, but it’s likely that he is attempting to remove other males’ sperm. He then transfers the female about 20 little packets of sperm known as spermatophores. He slowly positions these inside the female, and, when he’s done (up to three hours later), he forcefully throws her off!

My Masters research investigated the costs of this mating ritual. I found that males and females are knackered after such a long copulation. They also stare death in the face and mate despite the chance that they will be eaten. However, if we ignore predation risk, mating actually doesn’t reduce female lifespan when she mates with more than one male. Perhaps that’s why females have been known to have up to 7 male partners in their short lifespan (<1 year)!

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