After the sex, the babies


Oh, sure…one moment it’s all long throbbing organs pumping slickly in and out of orifices, and then the next thing you know, you’ve got a whole faceful of babies and little larvae giving you that evil demonic look. This is what happens after the squid orgies.

While most squid seem to lay their eggs in masses on the sea floor, Gonatus onyx is a deep sea squid that hangs on to its clutch of several thousand eggs, swimming along with them dangling in filmy sheets, occasionally pumping its tentacles to aerate them. The movies filmed from a submersible are spectacular (some are available here). When approached one of the squid clutches began hatching, and several were captured, so they also have photographed embryos.

(click for larger image)

Mantle length is about 145 mm. a, The squid in a horizontal resting position at 2,522 m depth. b, Squid holding a tubular egg mass, and c, hatchlings being released at 1,539 m depth. d, e, Hatched embryos (about 3 mm in length) at d, an intermediate stage of development, and e, an advanced stage of development. The in situ temperature (1.7–3.0 °;C) and oxygen concentration (45–90 µmoll-1) were measured using a SeaBird SBE-9 conductivity–temperature–depth unit with an oxygen sensor. Additional visual observations were recorded with a high-resolution, three-chip video camera transmitting to the RV Western Flyer by fibre-optic cable. Assisted by vessel crew and ROV pilots.

That little devil baby is so cute, here’s an enlargement.


They found lots of these animals because apparently the females carrying the eggs become relatively immobile, hovering deep in the sea, guarding their brood all alone between 1500 and 2500 meters down. That sounds so lonely…and they also become potential lunches for whales and elephant seals.

Seibel BA, Robison BH, Haddock SHD (2005) Post-spawning egg care by a squid. Nature 438:929.


  1. says

    I remember, as a youth, watching a Jacques Cousteau “Undersea World” episode in which The Calypso found itself steaming through a giant school of small squid. Jacques (or the narrator or whoever) remarked that squid were a really important part of the ocean’s ecosystem and provided much of the food for certain species, etc. etc. but that no one had any idea how they bred. I have no idea if that was true then, but clearly it is not true now…

    Science Marches On.

  2. Graham says

    Oh, sure…one moment it’s all long throbbing organs pumping slickly in and out of orifices

    Smutty and disgusting…I’ll bet they’re godless Liberals, too.