It's been a good year for squid
. It might not be colossal
, or make the sound "bloop
", or be running for president
, but I think the wonky-eyed jewel squid
has got the best name of today's crop of squid.
It was discovered by the NORFANZ deep-sea survey, a joint research programme by New Zealand and Australian scientific teams to explore the waters between the countries. Among other discoveries are the walking coffinfish, the Pacific spookfish, the fangtooth; and new forms of coral, sea spider, eelpout, dogfish, grenadier, dragonfish, and more.
A jewel squid is so called because its underside is spotted with a multitude of iridescent light organs. When it hangs down in the water, it is invisible from below because it arranges its lighting to exactly cancel out the shadow it makes. They can even adjust their light intensity to depth and time of day. They belong to the family Histioteuthidae.
They float in mid-water by using their urine to create an ammonia solution in sacs to give them just the right buoyancy.
The newly discovered ones are called wonky-eyed because their two eyes are adapted for different purposes. The much larger left eye looks upward for prey, while the right eye guards against predators below.
The research was done in four weeks in May and June 2003 by twenty-four scientists on board the RV Tangaroa, belonging to New Zealand's NIWA (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research) and supported by Australia's CSIRO. They were working in the depths of the seas and the seamounts up towards Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island.