NSFW: First Ever Video of Deep-Sea Squid Having Sex

More

Just kidding, totally safe for work

Mystery solved! Scientists have long wondered how, precisely, a male squid uses his quote-unquote "terminal organ" to transfer spermatophores (capsules containing millions of sperm) to the female squid. Now, thanks to a video filmed by NOAA's Little Hercules ROV (think: sea drone), they have live footage of two squid making the hanky panky, as my high school biology teacher called it, and can begin to answer this critical question.

The scene took place at a depth of 1,400 meters in the Gulf of Mexico, according to John Barrat of Smithsonian Science. When the scientists examined the video, they saw the two squid (Pholidoteuthis adami) lying parallel, pointing in opposite directions. The male was upside-down on top of the female, his terminal organ emerging out of his funnel.

"We knew the terminal organ was located in the mantle of the male but we didn't know that it projected through the funnel. The male was upside down, that also was surprising," research zoologist Michael Vecchione told Barrat.

It is still unknown how the sperm reach the eggs from the implantation site, though Vecchione guessed that they "burrow through the rest of the dorsal muscle and into the female's interior mantle to fertilize the eggs as they are coming out. But," he emphasized, "that's a guess. We really don't know."

One more thing surprised the scientists: "how long the mating process lasted." As Vecchione continued, ""In this species the spermatophores inject sperm deep into the muscle of the female's dorsal mantle. Because of this we guessed their mating was a really quick process in which the male darts in, shoots the female and then leaves. The video reveals it is a long process where the male is basically hanging on motionless for a long time. They were in that position when we first saw them in the video and they were still in that position when they swam away."

Jump to comments

Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Video

Just In