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Longfin (Loligo) Squid

The longfin squid (Loligo pealei), is a member of the cephalopod group of mollusks and is related to the cuttlefish, nautilus and octopus. Long fin squid range from Nova Scotia to Venezuela. Longfin squid are mainly caught in the ocean; however, in the summer they can be caught inshore. These squid spawn year round, and female squid attach fertilized eggs to a structure on the bottom such as a rock or seaweed.

photo of a longfin squid
Photo courtesy of J. Kunkel

Longfin squid typically live about one year and can grow up to a foot and a half (18 in). Loligo squid have 8 arms and 2 longer tentacles. The arms of the squid are used for holding onto prey items, while the two longer tentacles help squid to capture their prey, and aid in reproduction. This squid, like many other squid has a beak as a mouth. The beak looks very similar to the beak on a bird and is used by the squid to crush its food, which includes crabs, smaller fish and other crustaceans.

The longfin squid also has various other unique features. One of those is the clear "pen-like" structure that holds the body of the squid together. Squid do not have true skeletons, this rigid plastic-like structure is the only thing keeping the squid's body structure intact. Another specialized feature of the longfin squid is its eyes. Longfin squid have excellent eyesight and the squid eye is very similar to that of a human eye.

Longfin Squids in a basket
Photo courtesy of J. Kunkel

The longfin squid also possesses very unique prey avoidance features. When threatened by a predator, squid have an ink sac which they use to squirt ink into the water. This disorients the predator and gives the squid a chance to swim away. The most interesting feature squid have is the ability to flash and change colors. The squid does this using a specialized cell on the skin called a chromatophore. Longfin squid use this special cell to communicate with one another, and also rapidly flash to try and scare away predators.

Longfin squid are caught for use as bait and for food. Some common dishes in which squid are found is fried calamari, calamari in marinara sauce and in fish stews. The squid is one of the fascinating creatures living in the waters of New York State.

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