Stubby Squid With ‘Googly Eyes’ Discovered Off California Coast

A stubby squid with unusual “googly eyes” was discovered and filmed off the coast of California. The video footage, which was captured by the Hercules ROV during the ongoing Nautilus Live expedition, has gone viral, as the squid looks more like a child’s toy than an actual sea creature.

Although they look like tiny octopuses, and are commonly referred to as squids, the stubby squid is a member of the sepiolid family of cephalopods and is more closely related to cuttlefish.

Like octopuses, stubby squids spend a majority of their time on the ocean floor. According to the Cephalopod Page, the creatures prefer muddy sand and are most likely to settle in areas with a moderate slope. In an effort to deter predators, the cephalopods often choose places with a stronger tidal current.

Although they do not have cuttlebones or quills, and are not true squids, stubby squids behave like cuttlefish and true squids by burying themselves in the sand when they sleep.

If disturbed while sleeping, the creatures will flee and may emit a cloud of ink. However, if they are surprised by a bright light while awake, stubby squid are more likely to freeze in place.

The cephalopods generally live in and below the lower intertidal region “around the perimeter of the North Pacific from Japan to Southern California.” A majority of the creatures have been observed at depths around 300 meters. However, the stubby squid with the “googly eyes” was discovered at around 900 meters below the surface.

Despite the fact that their entire life cycle is only two years, the creatures are plentiful, because each female lays up to 50 eggs.

As the parents die within hours of mating, stubby squid eggs and hatchlings do not receive any parental care. Immediately after hatching, the tiny cephalopods begin feeding on small crustaceans including shrimp.

The cephalopods also seem to be largely immune to high levels of pollution. Scientists believe their short life cycle may allow the stubby squid to absorb higher levels of pollutants without a serious impact on their health. It is also believed that they may protect their bodies from pollutants by producing “copious amounts of mucus,” which envelopes the surface of their skin.

As reported by KTLA News, footage of the “googly-eyed” stubby squid was posted to YouTube by the E/V Nautilus team late last week. Within days, the video had hundreds of thousands of views.

Although stubby squids, which rarely grow larger than 6 cm in length, are often described as “cute,” the one filmed by the Hercules ROV gained particular interest due to its brilliant color and unusual eyes.

The tiny cephalopod is a deep purple color with eyes that look like they belong on a stuffed animal. While observing the live footage, the E/V Nautilus team initially questioned whether the creature was an octopus or a squid. The team then began commenting on the stubby squid’s unusual appearance.

An unidentified female team member said, “they look like googly eyes… it looks so fake. It’s like some kid dropped their toy.” Other members of the E/V Nautilus team agreed that the creatures “eyes look as though they were painted on.”

Viewers of the film have agreed that the tiny cephalopod looks more like a stuffed animal than an actual sea creature.

As stubby squid are highly adaptable, and survive well in captivity, they have been on display at The Seattle Aquarium for more than a decade. However, the squids at the aquarium do not have the brilliant color or googly eyes like the one filmed by the E/V Nautilus team.

[Image via Greg Amptman/Shutterstock]