Skip to main content

Oceanic squid do fly

Abstract

Using powerful jet propulsion, some squid species are able to exit the water and become airborne; this is a common behavior seen throughout the world’s oceans. However, direct scientific observation is rare, with most studies relying on anecdotal evidence and limited photographic documentation. Here, we examine the flying behavior of young oceanic squid (Ommastrephidae) observed in sequential photographs taken in the Northwest Pacific (35o34.0′N, 146o19.3′E) on July 25, 2011. We define four phases in the flight process: launching, jetting, gliding and diving. During flight, squid actively change their aerial posture and attitude depending on the flight phase and their distance from the water. The present study demonstrated that flight of squid is not simple gliding after incidental exit from the water, but involves jet propulsion, generation of lift force and control of different body postures in different flight phases, which have evolved to enhance escape from predators.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

References

  • Alexander RM (1977) Swimming. In: Alexander RM, Goldspink G (eds) Mechanics and energetics of animal locomotion. Chapman and Hall, London, pp 222–248

    Google Scholar 

  • Arata GF (1954) A note on the flying behavior of the certain squids. Nautilus 68:1–3

    Google Scholar 

  • Au D, Weihs D (1980) At high speeds dolphins save energy by leaping. Nature 284:548–550. doi:10.1038/284548a0

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Azuma A (2006) The biokinetics of flying and swimming. American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc, Reston

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Boyle PR, Rodhouse P (2005) Cephalopods: ecology and fisheries. Blackwell Science, Oxford

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Cole KS, Gilbert DL (1970) Jet propulsion of squid. Biol Bull 138:245–246. doi:10.2307/1540209

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Davenport J (1994) How and why do flying fish fly? Rev Fish Biol Fish 4:184–214. doi:10.1007/BF00044128

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Domenici P, Booth D, Blagburn JM, Bacon JP (2008) Cockroaches keep predators guessing by using preferred escape trajectories. Curr Biol 18:1792–1796. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2008.09.062

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Driver PM, Humphries DA (1988) Protean behaviour. Clarendon Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Dudley R, Byrnes G, Yanoviak SP, Borrell B, Brown RM, McGuire JA (2007) Gliding and the functional origins of flight: biomechanical novelty or necessity? Annu Rev Ecol Evol Syst 38:179–201. doi:10.1146/annurev.ecolsys.37.091305.110014

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Edut S, Eilam D (2004) Protean behavior under barn-owl attack: voles alternate between freezing and fleeing and spiny mice flee in alternating patterns. Behav Brain Res 155:207–216. doi:10.1016/j.bbr.2004.04.018

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gosline JM, Demont ME (1985) Jet-propelled swimming in squids. Sci Am 252:96–103. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0185-96

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hanlon RT, Messenger JB (1996) Cephalopod behaviour. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Macia S, Robinson MP, Craze P, Dalton R, Thomas JD (2004) New observations on airborne jet propulsion (flight) in squid, with a review of previous reports. J Molluscan Stud 70:297–299. doi:10.1093/mollus/70.3.297

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Murata M (1988) On the flying behavior of neon flying squid Ommastrephes bartrami observed in the central and northwestern north Pacific. Nippon Suisan Gakkai Shi 54:1167–1174. doi:10.2331/suisan.54.1167

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nelson JB (2005) Pelicans, cormorants and their relatives: Pelecanidae, Sulidae, Phalacrocoracidae, Anhingidae, Fregatidae, Phaethontidae. Oxford University Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • O’Dor R, Stewart J, Gilly W, Payne J, Borges TC, Thys T (2012) Squid rocket science: how squid launch into air. Deep Sea Res II. doi:10.1016/j.dsr2.2012.07.002

  • Packard A (1969) Jet propulsion and the giant fibre response of Loligo. Nature 221:875–877. doi:10.1038/221875a0

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Packard A (1972) Cephalopods and fish—limits of convergence. Biol Rev 47:241–307. doi:10.1111/j.1469-185X.1972.tb00975.x

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Rees WJ (1949) Note on the hooked squid, Onychoteuthis banksi. J Molluscan Stud 28:43–45

    Google Scholar 

  • Roper CFE, Nigmatullin C, Jereb P (2010) Family Ommastrephidae. In: Jereb P, Roper CFE (eds) Cephalopods of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of species known to date. Volume 2. Myopsid and Oegopsid Squids. FAO Species Catalogue for Fishery Purposes. No. 4, vol. 2. FAO, Rome, pp 269–347

    Google Scholar 

  • Royan ARA, Muir APMAP, Downie JRDJR (2010) Variability in escape trajectory in the Trinidadian stream frog and two treefrogs at different life-history stages. Can J Zool 88:922–934. doi:10.1139/Z10-059

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Staudinger MD, Hanlon RT, Juanes F (2011) Primary and secondary defences of squid to cruising and ambush fish predators: variable tactics and their survival value. Anim Behav 81:585–594. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2010.12.002

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wardle CS (1975) Limits of fish swimming speed. Nature 255:725–727. doi:10.1038/255725a0

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Webber D, O’Dor R (1985) Respiration and swimming performance of short-finned squid (Illex illecebrosus). Northwest Alt Fish Organ Sci Counc Stud 9:133–138

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

We thank Dr. Y. Watanuki and the officers and crew of T/S Oshoro Maru. The manuscript was greatly improved by the constructive comments of 3 anonymous reviewers.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to J. Yamamoto.

Additional information

Communicated by U. Sommer.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Muramatsu, K., Yamamoto, J., Abe, T. et al. Oceanic squid do fly. Mar Biol 160, 1171–1175 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-013-2169-9

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-013-2169-9

Keywords

  • Lift Force
  • Mantle Length
  • Flight Phase
  • Protective Membrane
  • Swimming Capability