Japanese flying squid
This mollusc shoots itself into the air using a method quite unlike any other
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.