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Camera Attached To Jumbo Squid Reveals Creatures' Secrets (VIDEO)

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Mar 30, 2013 11:05 AM EDT
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Researchers have learned new information about the Humboldt squid after attaching a camera to the elusive creature. (Photo : WikiCommons)

Marine biologists have learned new secrets about the Humboldt squid by attaching video cameras to the elusive creature, which has a razor sharp beak and hooks on its suckers and can reach the size of a grown man.

The footage revealed previously unknown information about the carnivorous squid, including that they hunt in large, synchronized groups, are able to travel at nearly 45 mph and rapidly change their body color when they are near other Humboldt squid to communicate, according to a study from Stanford University. 

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Researchers used the National Geographic Society's "Crittercam" to film the behavior of the squid. Getting the camera on the slippery squid took some MacGyver-like innovation. William Gilly, of Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station in Monterey, Calif., used a child's bathing suit cut to fit like an elastic sleeve.

The footage, along with tagging studies, have shed new light on the creatures.

"They undergo big migrations for such a short-lived animal," said former Stanford undergraduate Lauren Bell, who coauthored the Crittercam study. "It was a mystery how they were able to satisfy energy demands that allow for both growth and travel."

Gilly said the footage from the crittercam "shows several really interesting things," including the squid changing the diameter of its funnel to help propel itself in a controlled way. They also and saw that Humboldt squid only strobe their red and white chromatophores naturally when they come into proximity with the same species.

Last year researchers were puzzled when shoals of Humbolt squid were found beaching themselves by the hundreds last year along the coast of the Monterey Bay. One hypothesis for the mass stranding is that the the squid got lost in new territory; the creatures are usually seen much further south along the California coast.

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