Planet Earth

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Squid Sex

DiscoblogBy Melissa LafskyFeb 18, 2009 12:15 AM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

The details of animal mating can be ruthless, calculated, and remarkably graphic. But it's a process that must be done for every creature, including the market squid, or Loligo opalescens, which lives—and breeds—along the Pacific coast. Over at Slate, oceanographer Miriam Goldstein has a list of techniques necessary for the foot-long invertebrate to mate successfully—which also means successful eating for the sharks, dolphins, sea lions, and scores of other aquatic creatures who make them a regular lunch. As with just about all marine life, the squid are currently being fished to the brink, making it all the more necessary that their short period of amorousness, which begins this month, comes to fruition. So just how does a squid have sex, anyway? According to Goldstein:

During mating, the male's sperm-delivery tentacle grabs a package of sperm, called a spermatophore, from under his mantle, the hatlike covering over the pointed end of the squid. He slips his tentacle under the female's mantle and deposits the spermatophore next to her oviduct. When she lays the eggs, they brush by the spermatophore and are fertilized.

The steps that males can take to up their reproductive chances range from positioning themselves at the bottom of the sea/orgy to turning their tentacles bright red to intimidate other suitors to "spooning," or sticking close to a fertilized female to make sure another male doesn't swoop in at the last minute. Related: Disco: In Competitive Sex, Male Butterflies Employ “Dipstick Method” Disco: Internet Dating a New Option for Zoo Animals Disco: Bizarro Animal Sex Story of the Day

Image: Flickr / ourmanwhere

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month
Already a subscriber? Log In or Register
1 free articleSubscribe
Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%


Already a subscriber? Log In or Register
More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 70% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2021 Kalmbach Media Co.