Surprise squid attack footage confounds experts

By AG Staff 21 April 2017
Reading Time: < 1 Print this page
This incredible video of a surprise squid attack was captured from a CSIRO research vessel earlier this year.

EARLIER THIS YEAR, Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO published dramatic footage of a surprise squid attack 136m underwater in the Southern Ocean.

The 18-second video was taken by one of the science teams aboard the CSIRO research vessel Investigator during a voyage in March – and in a blog post published on its website today, CSIRO has said marine biologists and squid experts aren’t exactly sure what is going on in the clip.

Expert hypotheses include that the video may have either captured an instance of squid cannibalism (same-species predation); an individual attacking a squid from another species; or it could even show an intense mating scene.

“What our three hypotheses tell us is that the oceans are vast and full of mystery,” said CSIRO communications advisor and science blogger Jesse Hawley.

“Pause for a moment and consider how we don’t currently have enough understanding of life in the Southern Ocean to identify the species or even genus of squid in this video,” he said.

While Dr Mandy Reid from the Australian Museum did apparently identify both squids as most likely belonging to the family Ommastrephidae, this can’t be confirmed from the footage alone. She also “tentatively guessed” that the squids are from different species.

Another expert from The Smithsonian Institute, Michael Vecchione, told CSIRO’s communications team the video more likely captures an act of predation than sex, given the ferocity of the interaction and the fact that feeding tentacles are visible.