Ja­panese fly­ing squid

This mol­lusc shoots it­self into the air us­ing a method quite un­like any other

World of Animals - - Defying Gravity -

Found nav­i­gat­ing the cooler wa­ters of the North Pa­cific, this cu­ri­ous cephalo­pod weighs around 0.5 kilo­grams (1.1 pounds) and has a man­tle length of up to 50 cen­time­tres (19.7 inches). Able to in­habit ar­eas rang­ing from five to 27 de­grees Cel­sius (41 to 80.6 de­grees Fahren­heit), it only lives for a year, but in that short time it makes a pretty big im­pres­sion, for this squid can take to the skies.

As the name sug­gests, Ja­panese fly­ing squid are known to leave the briny blue be­hind as they pro­pel them­selves through the air, sail­ing up to 30 me­tres (98.4 feet) in just three sec­onds – faster than Usain Bolt! Yet while this spec­tac­u­lar flight is prob­a­bly vi­tal for preda­tor avoid­ance (po­ten­tial at­tack­ers in­clude sperm whales and seals), it isn’t with­out its risks.

An air­borne squid is ex­tremely vul­ner­a­ble, and car­niv­o­rous birds such as the im­pos­ing grey-headed al­ba­tross won’t waste any time in swoop­ing down to col­lect an easy meal. For this squid it re­ally is a case of fly or die. Some­times it’s both.

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