A species of neon flying squid has been found to propel itself more than 100 feet through the air at speeds of roughly 37 feet per second, most likely to escape predators.
The squid has been sighted and photographed before but no one knew exactly what allowed the squid to accomplish such a fantastic feat. Marine biologists at Hokkaido University have now determined what type of mechanism is behind the maneuver.
According to The New Zealand Herald, in July 2011 the team tracked a shoal of around 100 squid in Pacific waters east of Tokyo, Japan. They were able to watch the neon flying squid closely as they propelled themselves into the air by employing a “powerful jet of water that shot out from their funnel-like stems.”
An article by Wired writes that researchers spent significant time photographing and analyzing the process. Jun Yamamoto described the mechanics behind the squid’s flight:
“Once they finish shooting out the water, they glide by spreading out their fins and arms. The fins and the web between the arms create aerodynamic lift and keep the squid stable on its flight arc. As they land back in the water, the fins are all folded back into place to minimize the impact. We have discovered that squid do not just jump out of water but have a highly developed flying posture.”
If the creature uses his flying abilities as a defense mechanism, it’s not a perfect trick. Apparently the neon flying squid can only fly backwards making it unable to see where it will land.