By attaching "Crittercams" onto the backs of jumbo squid, marine biologists have captured unprecedented video showing how these brazen sea creatures flash in red and white as they attempt to communicate with each other.
As Jane J. Lee reports in National Geographic, scientists have known for some time that Giant Humboldt squids "talk" to each other in body-wide flashes of red and white. What they're saying, however, is a mystery. The new video (which you can see here) is providing some tantalizing clues.
I put together this GIF (sorry for the poor quality):
From Lee's post:
The animals can speed up or slow down their flashes to send different messages. But researchers have no idea what the squid are trying to say—maybe they're broadcasting come-ons to prospective mates, or throwing down with potential rivals. "That is the question of the hour," says [Hannah] Rosen, the lead study author.
When Humboldt squid want to go incognito, they start to flicker like a computer screen on its last legs. The animals use special skin cells to produce waves of red and white that scroll across their body. Most likely, the predators are trying to match the undulating pattern of sunlight filtering through the water, says Rosen, "like light reflecting on the bottom of a swimming pool."
Interestingly, the squid can also use their abilities to mimic the pattern of sunlight across their body, which confuses potential predators. It's the squid version of camouflage.
These experiments are ongoing, so hopefully these scientists will have more for us in the near future. One thing's for certain, though, jumbo squid mating is absolutely horrifying.
Read the entire article at NatGeo.