Now for those of you that have never heard of vampire squid, myself being one of them until I ran across an article about them, they really do exist. Similar to the Giant Squid, the Vampire Squid are a deep-sea species. Unlike the Giant Squid, which everybody has heard about, the Vampire Squid is not as news worthy until this recent discovery that suggests Vampire Squid live longer than several other species of squids.
The new discovery deals with the mating habits of Vampire Squid and compares them to that of other squids. It has taken so long to observe the mating habits of the Vampire Squid because of how far down they live. No scientists have ever seen them mate in their natural habitat.
In studying several other species of squids, including coastal squids and octopuses, scientists have learned that females go through a single reproductive cycle during their lifespan. So, before they die each female spawns once. However, vampire squid have several reproductive cycles during their lifetime. With this new discovery researchers are new suggesting that vampire squid live a lot longer than other species of squids.
Now researchers understand that in most species of squids the male transfers a sperm packet over to the female during mating. The female doesn’t use the sperm packet until she is ready to release her eggs, which nobody is quite sure how the sperm packet is released or how it knows it is needed. But, when it comes to Vampire Squid researchers are not sure if the mating process works the same because nobody has ever seen them mate in the wild.
Since mating hasn’t been observed in the deep-sea with Vampire Squid a team of researchers, including Henk-Jan Hoving studied the reproductive organs of Vampire Squids that had been persevered and kept in jars at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. What they determined from studying the ovaries of these females was that many of them had already spawned, but still had the ability to spawn more eggs.
Based on data collected from the most developed female, Hoving and his team of researchers found that she had released about 3,800 eggs. The most interesting part was that she still had around 6,500 immature eggs that were considered still viable inside of her ovaries. In most species of squid there are on average 100 eggs in a clutch. So for this female that means she had already spawned 38 clutches, but still had the ability to spawn 68 more clutches.
Based on the new information collected scientists now believe that the Vampire Squid have an active adult stage of about 8 years, but that there total life span is even longer. This is pretty amazing considering that most squids only live one to two years. However, the Vampire Squids longer life style fits with deep-sea lifestyle, where everything goes at a much slower pace.