Cockatoo Squid

Cockatoo Squid (Taonius borealis)

A cockatoo squid (Taonius borealis) turns transparent during a post-deployment survey at the Oregon Offshore site (585 meters deep) with the ROV ROPOS. Credit: UW/NSF-OOI/CSSF,ROPOS Dive R1752, V14.

The Cockatoo Squid is a species of cranchiid (or glass squid) with their stocky arms held above their heads in a way that resembles a cockatiel’s crest, the basis of this squid’s common name. Rather than squirting ink when agitated, they change the color of their body from transparent to colored by expressing pigment-filled cells called chromatophores. These squid are able to remain motionless in the water column by regulating the ratio of ammonium chloride to seawater held in a sac-like internal cavity. Their large eyes are capable of moving from a forward looking direction to either side of its head, and special light-emitting cells called photophores located under their eyes help the squid camouflage by canceling out its silhouette.

They are thought to inhabit depths of 300 m to 1000 m, and have been seen at the Oregon Offshore Site at 586 m, floating in the water column, where we witnessed its skin change from dark red to transparent. It was also spotted swimming around ROCLS at Southern Hydrate Ridge at 786 m in depth, and occasionally in the waters above Axial Seamount.

Marine Life Field Guide (Neptune Canada)