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Historic Aquarium First: Vampire Squid on Display

The storied creature, and another rare deep-sea find, are in Monterey.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    ©2004 MBARI
    Vampiroteuthis is a "living fossil," having changed little from cephalopods found in fossils that are hundreds of millions of years old. It went on display, a historic first, at the Monterey Bay Aquarium on Thursday, May 1.

    FISH STORIES: Tales of huge trout, the ones that got away, tend to be what a lot of people think of when they think of the term "fish stories." But those stories can apply to what an avid aquarium aficionado has seen while visiting their favorite fishy institutions.

    You know your super-into-the-sea braggy friends, the ones who have touched a ginormous shark and seen jellyfish dance and admired an otter mom cuddling her baby? It's a good thing, this sort of fish tale-telling, so we don't discourage it, but if your boastful friend ever tells you they've seen a deep-sea vampire squid at a public aquarium, stop them right where they stand, because they have not. They just haven't. The "living fossil," so monikered because they've "changed little from cephalopods found in fossils that are hundreds of millions of years old," has not been on exhibit before at any public aquarium, per the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Oh, did we just say "Monterey Bay Aquarium"? In fact we did, because there's a big first a-bubblin' in the aquariumverse (which is like the universe, of course, but far more liquid). The Cannery Row-based favorite now has a vampire squid on display, as of May 1, and Japetella or midwater octopus, another very rare creature.

    YEAH, IT'S MAJOR: So major that the aquarium is telling people who'd like to eye Vampyroteuthis infernalis, or "vampire squid from hell," in person, to swing by pronto. "Like many cephalopods, these animals can be fragile and short-lived, so we encourage you to visit soon and check them out!" The rare squid was just collected on April 30, and it looks in mighty fine form, thanks surely to its diet of "marine snow" aka "mucus, poop, and decaying dead animals." Oh yeah, tasty stuff for the vampire squid. The buzzed-about visitor and his buzzed-about co-visitor, the midwater octopus, can be seen in the brand-new "Tentacles" exhibition. Go see 'em, quickly, and then you'll have a real fish story to tell your aqua-obsessed pals.

    Second image: Japetella Octopus, courtesy of ©Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute