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A group of scientists exploring the depths of Gulf of Mexico on Friday videotaped a rarely observed vampire squid.
The sighting was made via remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) and documented by the crew aboard EVNautilus. The footage (posted above) shows the vampire squid moving slowly, yet gracefully, in the gentle current.
Stated Nautilus Live on its Facebook page: “We had a surprise visit from a Vampire Squid last night, perfect timing for the end of #Cephalopod week. Check out this eerie video as it drifts into the cameras of the ROV Hercules. Beautiful!”
According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which last month acquired one of these amazing critters, vampire squid are 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 feed on blood. Rather, it scavenges largely on marine snow--organic detritus falling through the water column--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.
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