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From Author

Roger Hanlon

Squid On Assignment

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From Photographer

Brian Skerry

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Roger Hanlon (top) and Marcia Skerry


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Field Notes From Author
Roger Hanlon
Best Worst Quirkiest
    In Venezuela photographer Brian Skerry and I lucked out and witnessed two male slender inshore squid (Loligo pealeii) fighting over a female. I've been studying these squid for ten years and have rarely seen this kind of behavior. Yet Brian wasn't in the water with me for more than ten minutes before they appeared right in front of us and started going at it. Talk about beginner's luck. The conditions were almost too good to be true. The lighting was perfect, the water shallow, and the fighting intense. Over the course of the day, we saw about six more fights. I bet we could return to the same area 20 more times and never get the same results.

    We dove off Cape Cod in May in the most abominable conditions for filming and photographing Cape Cod squid. It was cold, the water was murky green, and there was a high current. We did up to five dives a day for a couple of weeks and hardly spotted any squid. That was pure misery.

    I was videotaping mating Caribbean reef squid on the coral reefs of Venezuela when by pure fate—or luck—I saw a mating position I'd never seen in this species. You could say it was kind of like a long hug and a kiss. For about 20 seconds, a male and female stayed tightly wound together. I was completely taken aback, and if I hadn't caught them on video I probably would have dismissed it as something else. 
    Over the past decade I've logged about 1,200 hours of observation on this animal, which includes about a hundred matings that lasted less than a second. The female always tried to jet away from the male, but once he caught up to her, he gave her a quick slap and that was it. The intimately wound pair I saw took me about ten steps back in my data and raised a whole lot of questions about how the Sepioteuthis sepioidea squid's mating system really works.


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