National Geographic : 1967 Mar
night we had flashed our lights on the surface, but without success. Now, at last, we had enough live squids for serious study. Belowdecks, Sisson's three aquarium tanks glistened on the lab benches, the glass sides specially designed to admit ultraviolet light. As he set up his electronic ultraviolet flash devised just for this job-Bob's face virtually glowed in anticipation. Carefully we transferred the squids into the tanks. Everything seemed perfect. Vari colored lights pulsed from the squids' bodies. The captives shot around the tanks, propelling themselves with sudden jets of water. "They're all yours," I told Bob and turned to leave. But as I laid my hand on the door knob, he gave a yelp of dismay. Without warning, every squid in the room had fired inky jets, showering Bob, his equip- ment, and the bulkheads with brownish black water. Hardly a squid was visible in the suddenly clouded tanks. "What happened?" Bob asked as he set about cleaning up. "Most of the squids seemed to die in the middle of the explosion." "That's one of the troubles with squids," I explained. "Octopuses can live almost in definitely in tanks-great for behavior stud ies. But, even with the best of luck, squids seldom survive for more than a few days." Prisoner Jumps From Cell to Cell Squids are fast-moving, excitable creatures, unused to confinement. In captivity they dart about erratically, fatally injuring themselves and even suffocating in their own ink. Most just seem to die of shock. I have seen many squids give a quick shiver Living lantern of the midnight sea, a squid's biological light "turns on" under ultraviolet rays. Like many of his relatives, the "orange back" carries light organs-photophores-con taining chemicals related to those that set fireflies aglow. Named for the patch of light behind his head, Ommastrephes pteropus can also shine with a network of whitish photophores em bedded in his flesh. Scientists think the lights may keep schools together, attract prey, or frighten 390 enemies. Fins near the end of the mantle aid in steering and balance.