A survey of the depths of the Indian Ocean has revealed a new species of squid that glows in the dark.
The research cruise, led by the IUCN, revealed over 70 different species of squid including this new species. The results are part of a cruise to document life around seamounts in the southern Indian Ocean which actually took place in 2009, although they are only now being released.
The squid measures around 70cm long, making it a fairly large species and is bright red with light producing organs. It was first identified by Dr. Vladimir Laptikhovsky, Fishery Scientist from the Falkland Islands Fisheries Department and is as yet unnamed but thought to be one of the "Chiroteuthidae" family which has a number of light emitting members. The bioluminescence is thought to lure in prey such as small fish and crustaceans found in the depths.
Alex Rogers, a conservation biologist, at Oxford University is quoted saying: "In a single expedition, we sampled about a fifth of all the world's squid species that are known to date. That's really a staggering diversity of squid to sample in a single trip."
"We think we have more than one new species of squid," Rogers said. "This just happens to be the biggest and most glamorous one."
The six-week long "Seamounts cruise" trawled about 7,000 samples of life from depths of up to 1,200m/3,936ft. Among those found were over 200 species of fish and a large number of crustaceans.
Prof. Rogers continued: "For 10 days now, 21 scientists armed with microscopes have been working through intimidating rows of jars containing fishes, squids, zooplankton and other interesting creatures.
"Many specimens look similar to each other and we have to use elaborate morphological features such as muscle orientation and gut length to differentiate between them."
The cruise was aimed at exploring seamounts in an attempt to help improve conservation and management of marine resources in the area.
"The new discoveries will not only satiate the appetite of scientists working in the field, but will help improve conservation and management of Indian Ocean resources and future management of deep-sea ecosystems in the high seas globally," says Carl Gustaf Lundin, Head, IUCN Global Marine Programme.