Taningia danae

This is Taningia danae, the Dana octopus squid.  CNN featured a video of one filmed by some sort of submersible off the coast of Hawaii and I thought I would look up the animal and write about it (since the short CNN video contained almost no information…and was bookended by obnoxious ads for IBM office services and dubious stomach medicine).   The squid is a member of the family Octopoteuthidae, a group of pelagic and benthic photoluminescent squid (although some taxonomists question whether the family is valid). Although Taningia danae is not as gigantic as the colossal squid or the giant squid, it is still a very large creature: specimens have been caught which weigh up to 161.4 kilograms (356 pounds) and with a length of 2.3 m (7.5 feet).  These highly intelligent and maneuverable squid sometimes hunt together like wolf packs.  They live on fish and smaller squids of the mid-ocean depths and are preyed on by large powerful marine mammls like sperm whales.


The squid makes use of intense photoluminescent arm tips for hunting, measuring distance, and communicating with others of its kind. It can emit a brilliant strobe-like flash to stun prey, but it also uses the flashes for mating displays. The squid in the video endearingly came up and hugged the glowing submersible…although maybe that is an unduly cheerful interpretation.  Being hugged by an 8-armed sea monster that weighs as much as a linebacker might be less endearing than advertised.


An actual photograph of the businees end of T. danae (Image: Tsunemi / Proc. Roy. Soc. B)