Sepia elegans
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Jan 6, 2005
Dancing between Vancouver and Auckland
I don't think this one needs much intro, as there are many threads on it, however, I will post some links. These guys are actually pretty small, having a mantle of about 13 cm. I've often heard people say they assumed they were much larger. The vampire squid is neither a squid or an Octopus, as much as it has characteristics of both.

Info at:Vampyroteuthis infernalis
More info at: Vampire squid - Wikipedia
Of fossils and vampyroteuthis: Vampyroteuthis Infernalis, Living Fossil

The Little Blue-Eyed Vampire from Hell 2012 Richard Ellis (Kindle only great introduction to cephs in general)


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I read somewhere (don't have the link but I think another member pointed out one) that they have been able to keep them alive for as long as a month. That sound poor but prior to that reporting only a few hours was expected, mostly due to the capture method (by-catch) I believe was the initial reason for the very limited life. With all the deep water exploration, I am hoping a public aquarium will attempt a deep water exhibit but with funding at an all time low, it may be a long time yet.
I would LOVE to see one of those exhibits, however I think it may be a challenge for many aquaria to display. I know this sounds a bit crazy and naive, but wouldn't they need to re-create the pressure experienced by deep water creatures for them to survive for longer durations of time? I heard that a Japanese aquarium tried to house a Goblin shark, but that it only last a few days before dying. From what I can tell, deep water creatures don't do well in aquariums.
I would think soft bodied animals would be able to survive with proper acclimation (recall that many squid travel between pressure extremes daily). Setting up a cold enough tank may be cost prohibitive though.
Thanks GPO87! Definitely a king among cephalopods. I edited your first post to include Phil Eyden's excellent article here on TONMO re: vampy and related fossils / history.
The Unusual Sex Life of the Vampire Squid

© 2004 MBARI

A vampire squid

The unusual sex life of the vampire squid
David Shultz
20 April 2015 3:30 pm

SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA—Though the average patron will never find it, a massive collection of one of Earth’s most mysterious deep-sea animals lives cataloged in a lab at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Jars stuffed with gelatinous appendages line the shelves of one room from floor to ceiling, and murky eyes peer unseeingly through their alcohol preservative. The label on the shelf reads Vampyroteuthis infernalis.

Ordinarily, there is no light—from the sun or the overhead museum fluorescents—in the habitat of the vampire squid. The 30 cm animal lives 500 to 3000 meters below the ocean’s surface, in a zone where oxygen is low and photons are rare. To survive the choking darkness, according to a new study, the squid has evolved a reproduction strategy unlike any of its kin—one that has extended its time on Earth.

“The study has given us a brand-new way of understanding how some cephalopods reproduce, and also has given us the first insight into what the possible life span of this animal might be,” says Kathrin Bolstad, a teuthologist at the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand who was not involved in the work. “Every little tiny piece of the puzzle about deep-sea animals that we can put together is a fantastic advance.”

Despite its name, the vampire squid is not an aggressive predator, nor does it feed on blood. It glides slowly through the depths, feeding on detritus and plankton. “It has a slow pace of life,” says Henk-Jan Hoving, a marine biologist at the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany. Hoving has been studying squid for more than a decade and discovered the museum’s cache of preserved vampire squid while researching what the animals eat. He noticed that the collection contained a large number of females that might allow him to unravel the specifics of the mysterious squid’s reproductive strategy.

His research, published today in Current Biology, suggests that unlike most cephalopods,vampire squid undergo multiple reproductive cycles during their lifetime. This contrasts dramatically with other squid and octopuses, which reproduce in one spectacular event and then die shortly thereafter. Multiple spawning events may better suit this squid’s low-energy lifestyle. “I don’t think this slow pace of life allows one big reproductive spawning event,” Hoving says.

For the new study, Hoving and colleagues dissected 47 females. Similar to humans, squid egg cells mature in the ovary and are supported by a shell of cells known as a follicle. The immature egg cell is eventually released during ovulation, but the follicles are left behind. Fortunately for the team, the ovary reabsorbs these postovulatory follicles quite slowly in vampire squid, allowing the researchers to count and characterize different batches of eggs produced by the mature females.

Using the follicles to reconstruct the vampire squids’ spawning history allowed researchers to make several surprising discoveries. First, unlike any other squid, the vampire has a gonadal resting phase, meaning there are times when the ovary has no growing or ripe egg cells. The authors suspect that the resting period between egg batches enables the females to store up enough energy to start a new reproductive cycle. Furthermore, it appears that developing eggs can be reabsorbed into the ovary to save energy if times are particularly lean.

The insight into the squids’ reproductive lives has also helped Hoving and his team refine their estimates for how long the creatures might live. The largest female in the museum’s collection was estimated to have spawned 38 times and contained enough reproductive cells for another 65 rounds. “If we assume 38–100 spawning events … the duration of the adult stage is at least 3–8 years in this specimen, with the total life span exceeding these numbers,” the authors write. Such longevity would dwarf the vampire’s shallow water relatives, which usually only live between 6 and 18 months. Bolstad affirms that the study “has given us the first insight into what the possible life span of this animal might be.”

There are, however, a lot of unknowns that need to be answered before the life span can be confirmed with more certainty. Researchers still don’t know how long it takes a follicle to be reabsorbed completely. Nor do they know how long gonadal resting phase between spawning events last or how long it takes an egg to reach maturity. “It would be nice to keep animals in the lab alive for as long as possible to try to figure out how fast they grow,” Hoving says.

Regrettably, the study was unable to identify any trends in when or where the spawning takes place. So as tantalizing as it might be to imagine hordes of vampire squid gathering to reproduce at specific locations in the pitch-black darkness, any such discovery will have to wait—but waiting is probably what the vampire squid does best.

Posted in Biology, Plants & Animals
September 26, 2012
MBARI News Release
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MBARI researchers discover what vampire squids eat
(it's not what you think)


This photo, taken in the lab, shows a vampire squid swimming with one of its filaments extended (upper left corner). Image: Kim Reisenbichler © 2005 MBARI
About 100 years ago, marine biologists hauled the first vampire squid up from the depths of the sea. Since that time, perhaps a dozen scientific papers have been published on this mysterious animal, but no one has been able to figure out exactly what it eats. A new paper by MBARI Postdoctoral Fellow Henk-Jan Hoving and Senior Scientist Bruce Robison shows for the first time that, unlike its relatives the octopuses and squids, which eat live prey, the vampire squid uses two thread-like filaments to capture bits of organic debris that sink down from the ocean surface into the deep sea.
It's easy to imagine the vampire squid as a nightmarish predator. It lurks in the eternal midnight of the deep sea, has a dark red body, huge blue eyes, and a cloak-like web that stretches between its eight arms. When threatened, it turns inside out, exposing rows of wicked-looking "cirri." Even its scientific name,Vampyroteuthis infernalis, means "vampire squid from hell."

In reality, the vampire squid is a soft-bodied, passive creature, about the size, shape, and color of a football. A "living fossil," it inhabits the deep waters of all the world's ocean basins at depths where there is almost no oxygen, but also relatively few predators.

A few previous researchers have caught vampire squids in nets, hauled them up to the surface, and tried to figure out what they ate by examining the contents of their stomachs. The results were generally inconclusive. The stomachs typically contained bits and pieces of tiny, shrimp-like animals, microscopic algae, and lots of slimy goo.


This frame grab from video taken by one of MBARI's ROVs shows a vampire squid with its web open, revealing a bit of marine snow in its mouth (the white spot at center of arms). Other bits of marine snow appear as white specks in the water around the animal. The soft, finger-like projections on the animal's arms (cirri) may help the animal transfer food to its mouth. Image: © 2011 MBARI
In a recent article in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Hoving and Robison show that vampire squids eat mostly "marine snow"—a mixture of dead bodies, poop, and snot. The dead bodies are the remains of microscopic algae and animals that live in the waters farther up in the ocean, but sink down into the depths after they die. The poop consists of fecal pellets from small, shrimp-like animals such as copepods or krill. The snot is mostly debris from gelatinous animals called larvaceans, which filter and consume marine snow using mucus nets.

In addition to looking at the stomach-contents of vampire squids from museum collections, the researchers used MBARI's remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to collect live vampire squids and study their feeding habits in the laboratory. They also examined high-definition videos of vampire squids taken by MBARI's ROVs. Finally, they examined vampire squid arms and feeding filaments under optical and scanning electron microscopes.

One key to Hoving and Robison's discovery was that they used MBARI's ROVs to collect living vampire squids, and were able to keep them alive in the laboratory for months at a time. Hoving soon found that if he placed bits and pieces of microscopic animals into a tank with a vampire squid, the food particles would stick to one of the string-like filaments that the animal sometimes extends outward from its body. The vampire squid would then draw the filament through its arms, removing the particles from the filament and enveloping them in mucus. Finally, the squid would transfer the glob of mucus and particles to its mouth and consume it.


This close up view shows a vampire squid using its arms to scrape food off of one of its filaments. Image: © 2008 MBARI
Using MBARI's video annotation and reference system (VARS), Hoving also identified every MBARI ROV dive over the last 25 years during which researchers had seen a vampire squid. He then pored over 170 of these video clips (over 23 hours of footage) to look for additional clues as to what and how the animals ate.
The videos showed that vampire squids often drift motionless in the water, extending one of their thin filaments—up to eight times as long as the animal's body—like a fishing line. In many cases, Hoving saw bits of marine snow sticking to the filament. He also saw vampire squids slowly pulling in their filaments and scraping off the accumulated marine snow using their arms. Other vampire squids had globs of marine snow and mucus dangling from their mouths.

Under the microscope, the researchers observed that the vampire squid's suckers were covered with cells that produce mucus, which the animal apparently uses to collect and glue together individual particles of marine snow. Their filaments are covered with tiny hairs and a dense net of sensory nerves, which makes them extremely sensitive to touch.

When looking at vampire squids' stomach contents, the researchers did not see bones or pieces of individual animals that would indicate the vampire squids had captured live prey. Instead, they saw mostly amorphous bits of broken-up organic debris. The only prey they saw that might have been eaten alive were the remains of tiny crustaceans that sometimes "hitchhike" on sinking mucus nets or clumps of the marine snow.


This frame grab from an underwater video shows a vampire squid in a typical feeding position, drifting horizontally in the deep sea with one of its filaments extended. Image: © 2011 MBARI
After considering all the evidence, Hoving and Robison conclude that, "the vampire squid's filament is likely a multifunctional organ that is deployed to detect and capture detrital matter but at the same time may detect the presence of predators and perhaps small living prey."
The organic detritus that forms the bulk of the vampire squid's diet would not seem to be particularly nutritious. However vampire squids complement their frugal diet with an extremely energy-efficient lifestyle and unique adaptations. Their bodies are neutrally buoyant, so they don't have to expend energy to stay at a particular depth. Even better, they don't have to swim to find food, but simply extend their filaments to collect food that drifts past them.

Finally, vampire squids don't have to expend much energy avoiding predators, because they live at depths where there is so little oxygen that few other animals can survive. Conveniently, these deep, low-oxygen zones are often found where there is an abundance of life near the sea surface, which in turn creates lots of marine snow for vampire squids to eat. Hoving explains, "Because of its unique adaptations, the vampire squid is able to permanently and successfully inhabit the center of the oxygen minimum zone, an otherwise hostile environment where the vampire squid's predators are few, and its food is abundant."

Even though Hoving and Robison's research shows that the vampire squid is a "detritivore" rather than an active predator, its sinister appearance and stealthy habits will no doubt continue to fascinate both researchers and the general public.

This research was sponsored by grants from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO).


For additional information, video, or images relating to this news release, please contact:

Kim Fulton-Bennett
831-775-1835, [email protected]

Original journal article:
Hendrik J. T. Hoving and Bruce H. Robison, Vampire squid: detritivores in the oxygen minimum zone Proc. R. Soc. B rspb20121357; published ahead of print September 26, 2012, doi:10.1098/rspb.2012.1357 1471-2954

Published on Sep 26, 2012
For years marine biologists have puzzled over what the mysterious vampire squid eats. Recent research by Henk-Jan Hoving and Bruce Robison at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute finally reveals the answer. These deep-sea creatures use long, retractile filaments to passively harvest particles and aggregates of detritus, or marine snow, sinking from the waters above. This feeding strategy, unknown in any other cephalopod (this group of animals includes squid and octopods), allows vampire squid to thrive in the oxygen minimum zone where there are few predators but marine detritus is abundant.

For more information see:

Published on Jun 20, 2014
Its Latin name translates as "the vampire squid from hell." And while its crimson skin and glowing eyes support its title, deep sea ecologists like Bruce Robison of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute have come to see the vampire squid as the antithesis of a bloodsucking predator. In fact, studies have shown that Vampyroteuthis infernalis is actually a gentle steward of the ocean's depths, gracefully foraging on marine detritus.

Produced by Christian Baker
Music by Audio Network
Additional Footage Provided by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Vampire Squid From Hell
He Liu 2020 full article and pdf available

Not a great article and not written by a native English speaker but it does list a lot of facts about Vampyroteuthis. Of note (contradicting an earlier assumption) is the conclusion that vampy lays multiple sets of eggs.


The vampire squids are like from out of a midnight science fiction film. They have a gelatinous form and two big fins on its body likes their ears. The blue or red eyes are really big compared to their small body. The vampire squid is a glowing creature, the body is covered with luminous organs, which can make them glow and turn completely invisible arbitrary due to the deep sea they lived in. And different from most squid and octopus they don’t have ink. On their “arms” they have finger-like projection that looks like fangs, thus giving them the name “vampire squid”. The pair of “arms” changes into a long fine shape and can be stretched to twice the length of its body. They are using the retractile tentacles and the other shorter tentacles together to catch prey. When danger comes, the tentacles can cover the body, forming a protective pins. For a gelatinous animals, they swim very fast, and reach to their fastest speed within 5 seconds. They also can make several sharp turns to run away from predators. Their fins help them swim and stroke, like penguins and turtles do. Even though their called vampire squid, they are not in anyway harmful. They do not feed on blood. They are like the ghost, unfettered wandering from place to place.
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