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Taylor Tate's Vampire Squid Report
Project Name : Taylor Tate's Vampire Squid Report
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Vampire Squid Spring Research Report by Taylor Tate
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 In the depths of the ocean, hundreds of thousands of diverse species thrive in a wide variety of habitats. One interesting species that caught my attention is the Vampire Squid, formally and scientifically known as Vamoyroteuthis Infernalis. This species prefers to live in deep waters, therefore it was not very well-known by humans, although, the Vampire Squid is becoming more popular due to the rising threats against it. The Vampire squid is most known for it's appearance, as well as it's behavioral and predatory techniques.
The Vampire squid was first discovered and studied by marine biologist, Dr. Carl Chun near the guinea Basin in the Atlantic ocean in 1903.  Due to its dark red skin, deep purple web and fins, white beak and reddish- blue eyes, making it seem demonic, Dr. Chun named it Vampyroteuthis Infernalis, or Vampire Squid from Hell [Eyden 2005, 2]. The vampire squid is most closely in relation to the octopus, or Octopoda, in shape and structure, and Jellyfish, or Scyphozoa, in body composition and texture [Anonymous A 2012, 3]. Vampyroteuthis Infernalis appeared about 300 million years ago, which is around the same time Octopods evolved from ten legged to eight legged creatures, and it is though they could share an ancestors with early octopods, yet it is also possible that octopods evolved from early Vampyromorphs [Eyden 2005, 4]. The Vampire squid are members of the Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Mollusca, Class Cephalopoda, Order Vampyromorphida, Family Vampyroteuthidae, Genus Vamptroteuthis, and Species Vampyroteuthis Infernalis [Dewey 2012, 1].
Vampyroteuthis Infernails can be found deep in the tropical  and subtropical oceans, specifically the Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans, from depths of 300 to 3,000 meters, but the majority are found about 1,500 meters below the surface. They stay in areas with a temperatures from 2 to 6 degrees celsius [Ingram 2012, 1], and oxygen levels of around .22ml/l. They are also found in the benthic, oceanic vent, and coastal biomes.[Johnson 2000, 3]. 
The Vampire squid is relatively small reaching about 28 centimeters; about the size of a football. There is also a difference between males and females, whereas females are larger than the males. The vampire squid has 8 long arms, and two retractable filaments that can well reach the length of the animal, which are connected by a deep web.. Each arm has a single row of suckers on it, and a row of cirri that work as sensory receptors when trying to seize prey. Their mantles are anywhere from 15-25 mm in length, and there are two lobed fins attached to it.
In order to attract prey, the Vampire Squid ha the ability to  bioluminesce. Located on the arms, filaments, and fins are photophores that illuminate when the animal is in danger, or trying to get the attention of prey, and maybe even for intraspecific communication [Robison 2003, 2]. When the animal is tressed and trying to avoid a predator, it brings up its web and wraps it over its mantle protecting the mantle and  making in dark and difficult for the predator to see. Another mechanism used to get away from predators is to confuse the with its bioluminescence. When threatened, the vampire squid flails its luminescent limbs and confuses the predator about its exact location, then it retreats using jet propulsion.  Jet propulsion is when the squid shoots a strong jet of water from the mantle that thrusts the squid in the opposite direction[ Anonymous A, 5]. The vampire squid can luminesce for more than two minutes when the photophores glow simultaneously, flash one to three times each, or pulsate. They can also release a cloud of luminescence from an organ located in the tips of the arms that can laminate for up to 10 minutes [Johnson 2000, 9]. One interesting occurrence that happens during the vampire squid's development is it's ability to change the size, shape, and position of their fins. When the squid's mantle is approximately 15-25mm, it begins to grow a second pair of fins in front of the first pair. Then, when the newer pair matures, the mantle absorb the original pair, and the new fins change the squids style of swimming from jet propulsion to fin propulsion[ Anonymous A, 2]. Now, the vampire squid can reach high swimming speeds despite its gelatinous structure, relying on its fin propulsion, but not for long periods of time [ Robison 2003, 1]. In order to retain the energy needed to complete these processes, the squid in mostly inactive when it isn't trying to catch prey, or retreat from a predator. With a proper amount of energy, the vampire squid can reach speeds up to two body lengths per second, and accelerates in about 5 seconds [Young, 2010. 1], but the speed still does not last very long. There are two forms of fin propulsion called drag-based propulsion, and lift based propulsion. Drag-based propulsion, the vampire squid moves its fins back and forth parallel to the body, and this results in lower speeds. For faster speed, Vampyroteuthis Infernails uses lift-based propulsion. Lift-based propulsion occurs when the squid moves its fins in up and down motions [Seibel, 1998. 1]. 
The vampire squid has the lowest metabolic rate of any cephalopod because it is very inactive when its not threatened or looking for food. When looking for food, the vampire squid uses its sensory filaments to sense motion in the surrounding water. When it senses prey, it uses its statocyst to help it maintain balance and descend toward its prey, and using its filaments to feel around for it. When the squid finds the prey it grabs them and brings them in to be eaten [Johnson, 2000. 11].
The Vampire Squid has a strictly carnivorous diet. Remnants of prawns, copepods, and cnidarians have been found in the stomach of the squid, although it's exact dietary habits are still somewhat unknown. Remnants of Vampyroteuthis have been discovered in the stomach contents of seals, sea lions, various fish from the deep, and also the bottle nosed whales [Ingram, 2012. 2].
Like humans, Vampyroteuthis Infernails reproduces asexually. The male transfers sperm packets into the female's receptive ducts located underneath her eyes where they can be stored for period of time as long as a year before she uses them to fertilize her eggs. Then the eggs are released into the ocean in small groups, and the mother dies shortly after giving birth. The eggs are approximately 3 to 4 mm in diameter, and when hatched they are on average 8mm in length. The infant Vampire squids are remarkably unsimilar to the adults, whereas the head is not attached to the mantle, the web in not present, and can only use jet propulsion to move. The babies tend to live deeper in the water than the adults, and eat yolk stored inside of them  instead of hunting and feeding on prey. As they develop they drift back upward toward the regular depth range[ Eyden, 2005. 5]. 
Until recently, the Vampire Squid was fairly unknown, but now they have been brought to the attention as a threatened species due to selfish human activities also affecting millions of other underwater species. Global warming, decreasing oxygen, pollution, overfishing, and industrialization are all contributing factors of the cause that is making these exotic species threatened. "We have a responsibility to learn all we can about these amazing animals and protect them from the greatest danger to life in the deep- the human species," Bruce Robison of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute has stated [Anonymous, 2010. 3]. 
The most recent research done on Vampyroteuthis Infernalis was done by Seibel regarding the metamorphosis  of the vampire squids fins, and fin propulsion. Seibel actually proved that in an environment where speed is not particularly necessary, fin propulsion is more economical than jet propulsion, therefore it is preferred. Also, the ability to convert from jet propulsion to fin propulsion and an ontogenic trait, or a developing trait, and relates to body size.  It has also been record that the vampire squids capability of living in environments with about a .22ml/l oxygen level is a specific physiological adaptation, and permits it to have the metabolism that it needs. Seibels' studies also state that Vampyroteuhtis Infernalis has a high gill diffusion capacity, and the capacity of respiratory proteins is high, giving the animal an effective oxygen gradient between blood and water. Lastly, scientists are doing more research on the bioluminescence of Vampyroteuthis Infernails to determine if it is used as a communication system, as well as a defense mechanism and a technique to attract prey [Ingram, 2012. 4].
I was first introduced to this animal while at home watching The National Geographic Channel, and it caught my attention very quickly. Just the look of it was so interesting and sort of evil looking that it grabbed my attention, then the narrator was explaining its bioluminescence and other behavioral habits, and I became so intrigued I googled it and it soon became my favorite animal. This report has made me like the Vampyroteuthis Infernalis much more, because now I know it's not just some creepy looking sea creature, but a very complex, and unknown creature that still has so much more information to be learned about it. 
In conclusion, Vampyroteuthis Infernails is a very well developed species, and a great example of evolution that has taken place over millions of years regarding bioluminescence, fin and jet propulsion an the metamorphosis of its fins. Vampyroteuthis Infernalis is a very intelligent species, and a helpful resource for many scientists' research. It is a shame that human activites are threatening this amazing species, and I believe that humans should do all we can to protect and save the oceans and millions of species call them their homes.




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