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Stanford researcher investigates how squid communicate in the dark


In the frigid waters 1,500 feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, hundreds of human-sized Humboldt squid feed on a patch of finger-length lantern fish. Zipping past each other, the predators move with exceptional precision, never colliding or competing for prey.

How do they establish such order in the near-darkness of the ocean’s twilight zone?

The answer, according to researchers from Stanford University and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) may be visual communication. Like the illuminated words on an e-book reader, these researchers suggest that the squid’s ability to subtly glow – using light-producing organs in their muscles – can create a backlight for shifting pigmentation patterns on their skin. The creatures may be using these changing patterns to signal one another. MORE

Header image: A group of Humboldt squid swim information about 200 meters below the surface of Monterey Bay. Credit: © 2010 MBARI.

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