The vampire squid is a deep sea creature that is believed to utilize bioluminescence, the emitting of light, as part of its defenses. The vampire squid possesses multiple light organs called photophores. The light emitted by these photophores is readily seen in the darkness of the deep sea, and vampire squids can use it in a multitude of ways. While glowing, the photophores on their head look like glowing eyes and, when threatened by a predator, the vampire squid can adjust the size of these photophores to appear like it is swimming away even when it is not moving. This makes it difficult for a predator to tell precisely where the vampire squid is.
The vampire squid can also emit light directly from photophores on its arm tips. These arm-tip light organs have been found in nets, as well as observed on the ends of broken off and shortened arms. This discovery may serve as evidence that the vampire squid can use it’s glowing arm-tips as “sacrificial diversions” that can be regenerated.
-by Lauren Burke
Robison, B., K.R. Reisenbichler, J.C. Hunt, S.H.D. Haddock. 2003. Light production by the arm tips of the deep-sea cephalopod Vampyroteuthis infernalis. Biological Bulletin. 205:102-109.