types of squid

15 Types of Squid: Facts and Photos

The underwater world is home to various types of squid, known for their shape-shifting abilities and intelligence. Join us as we explore the characteristics, habitats, behaviors, diet, and other facts about different squids. Without further adieu, let us take you down to the realm of these ocean dwellers.

Related Read: Squid Facts

15 Types of Squid

1. Giant Squid (Architeuthis dux)

As one of the world’s longest invertebrates, the maximum reported length of a giant squid is 57 feet, longer than a school bus. It also has one of the largest eyes among Earth’s living creatures, with a diameter of up to ten inches. Their humongous eyes give them exceptional vision in the ocean's dark depths. 

They also rely heavily on visual cues to communicate and hunt. And their beaks can easily slice through steel cables, greatly aiding their hunting ability. Despite their imposing size, Giant Squids are shy creatures; they spray ink to escape threats, such as the sperm whale, their natural predator.  

2. Colossal Squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni)

Based on the best-preserved specimen, the Colossal Squid can grow up to 13.8 feet long and weigh over 1,000 pounds. It also has eyes the size of dinner plates, allowing it to detect bioluminescent prey in the darkness.

To capture prey in the frigid waters of the Southern Ocean near Antarctica, This deep-sea creature also has sharp hooks on its tentacles.

Despite its massive size, the Colossal Squid is still a mysterious creature. Scientists’ only information and knowledge about this animal comes from the scars it leaves on its nemesis, sperm whales. As of 2015, there are only 12 records of complete colossal squids.

3. Humboldt Squid (Dosidicus gigas)

humboldt squid
Photo by NOAA Photo Library on Flickr licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Cropped from original)

The Humboldt Squid lives in the depths of the Humboldt Current, a stretch of cold water along the west coast of South America. Also called the “red devil” or “jumbo squid,” can modify its skin color and patterns to interact with other squid, evade predators, and intimidate its prey. 

Due to their short lifespan of two years, Humboldt Squids reach their full size in a matter of months. They can only get almost 5 feet in mantle length and weigh up to 110 pounds.

They have sharp beaks and powerful tentacles; divers exercise caution around them. Besides prey, they also attack humans occasionally. Their barbed tentacle suckers and sharp beaks are bad news for many sea animals.

4. Vampire Squid (Vampyroteuthis infernalis)

The Vampire Squid does not belong to the squid or octopus family but is in a unique order called Vampyromorphida. This deep-sea creature has a gelatinous body and glowing blue eyes, making it menacing.

Despite its appearance, this squid is a harmless filter-feeder, consuming tiny particles of organic matter–dead animals, fecal matter, and mucus known as “marine snow”—falling from the ocean's upper layers.

Its body is covered in inky webbing that connects its eight arms like a cloak, and it has cold blue eyes, contributing to its name. But don’t get fooled by it. This creature is not vicious, nor does it suck blood. 

Unlike most squid species, this squid releases glowing mucus from the tips of its arms, which can confuse potential predators. Its body also has soft spines that capture minute particles or drifting debris1.

5. Japanese Flying Squid (Todarodes pacificus)

The Japanese Flying Squid can leap out of the water and glide for considerable distances. According to studies, they can be in the air for 3 seconds, traveling almost a hundred feet. This unbelievable behavior is all thanks to their powerful jet propulsion system that launches it out of the water into the air, which is believed to be an attempt to escape predators.

With that said, they are a significant part of the food chain. They are natural prey of dolphins, whales, and seals. And then, they eat fish and small marine animals and even engage in cannibalism occasionally. 

6. Dana Octopus Squid (Taningia danae)

The Dana Octopus Squid produces bright blue-green light from its body to escape predators or attract potential mates. This deep-sea squid can reach 7.5 feet long and weigh almost 356 lb, thriving in the ocean’s dark depths.

Their bioluminescence comes from organs known as photophores at the end of two tentacles. These organs emit bright flashes that stun prey quickly, confuse the predator, and let the squid escape.

These creatures live in the mid to lower mesopelagic zone, around 1300 feet deep in the ocean, where sunlight hardly penetrates.

7. Bigfin Reef Squid (Sepioteuthis lessoniana)

bigfin reef squid
Photo by George Berninger Jr. on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Cropped from original)

The Bigfin Reef Squid can quickly change its skin color and patterns to blend in with its surroundings or communicate with other squids. Its fins, which extend nearly its entire body length, serve as paddles for efficient movement through the water.

Remarkably, recent deep-sea sightings have shattered expectations about how far Bigfin Reef Squids can venture into the ocean's depths. They discovered a staggering 20,380 feet beneath the Philippine Sea and set a new deep-dive record for squids. Humbled by their adaptability, these encounters remind us of the ocean's enduring mystery and the resilience of its inhabitants.

8. Market Squid (Doryteuthis opalescens)

Market squid can change their skin color and pattern to match their surroundings through specialized cells called chromatophores. This squid lives in the Eastern Pacific, from Alaskan waters to Baja California.

During the day, the Market Squid hides in deeper waters to evade predators and emerges to hunt for small fish, fellow squid, and zooplankton at night. This species nourishes various marine life, such as sharks, salmon, lingcod, and aquatic birds, helping sustain the food chain. 

While they live for only 6-9 months, millions of individual market squid engage in massive spawning events and perform a synchronized dance of reproduction. 

9. Glass Squid (Cranchiidae)

The Glass Squid has light-producing organs or photophores across its body, which helps it remain invisible to predators and prey. Additionally, their body cavities contain an ammonia solution, allowing them to float in high-pressure environments.

Glass Squids come in different sizes and shapes, but they all have large eyes that move around to get the best possible view in the dim light of the deep sea. They have short arms with suckers and hooks and feed on small fish, crustaceans, and sometimes Glass Squids.

Commercial fishers typically leave Glass Squids alone because they are challenging to catch. They only live for one or two years. 

10. Bobtail Squid (Sepiolidae)

bobtail squid
Photo by Nick Hobgood on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Cropped from original)

The Bobtail Squid has a light organ on its underside that emits a blue-green glow, which helps it blend in with the moonlight filtering through the ocean's surface. This glow comes from a bacteria (Vibrio fischeri) in the squid’s mantel, mimicking moonlight or starlight. Interestingly, this adaptation allows the Bobtail Squid to avoid predators and sneak up on its prey. 

This squid lives in coastal waters worldwide, though it prefers the Pacific Ocean. It has a short, rounded body, unlike its relatives.

As the sun sets, the Bobtail Squid ventures out of its sandy habitat to hunt for small crustaceans and fish. They also mate at night. After mating, the female lays eggs in the sand and protects them until they hatch.

11. Firefly Squid (Watasenia scintillans)

The Firefly Squid inhabits the Western Pacific Ocean near the coasts of Japan. It has tiny light-producing organs called photophores, which allow it to emit blue and turquoise light. This light helps them communicate with other squids, attract mates, and ward off predators. 

Moreover, its relatively large eyes can detect different light wavelengths, indicating a heightened perception of color.

12. Caribbean Reef Squid (Sepioteuthis sepioidea)

caribbean reef squid
Photo by Betty Wills on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Cropped from original)

Caribbean Reef Squid can quickly change their skin color and patterns, referred to as "dynamic camouflage."  This skill allows them to blend in with their surroundings, particularly colorful coral reefs. However, scientists have yet to determine whether this skill helps it communicate with other squid or hide from predators. 

These small squid, measuring less than 8 inches long, live in the warm, clear waters of the Caribbean Sea, Atlantic Ocean, or Gulf of Mexico. This type of squid only has an average lifespan of one year. 

13. Grimaldi-scaled Squid (Lepidotheutis grimaldii)

Living in the southwestern Pacific, this squid gets its name from noted oceanographer Prince Albert I Grimaldi of Monaco. The Grimaldi scaled squid can quickly alter the color and pattern of its skin to blend in with its surroundings to evade predators. 

It also uses light to communicate with other squid and lure its prey. Unlike its cousins, this squid’s tentacles have hooks instead of suckers, indicating its advanced hunting skills.

Moreover, the Grimaldi-scaled squid has a unique, scale-like mantle and large eyes adapted to the deep sea’s twilight zone. 

14. Southern Pygmy Squid (Idiosepius notoides)

The Southern Pygmy Squid measures only about two centimeters long. It can change its color and texture to blend into its surroundings. 

This clever squid also hides among seagrass or against the sandy ocean floor to escape predators and sneak up on prey, such as small sea creatures and zooplankton. 

Additionally, larger female squids lay single eggs on seagrass blades. They also live for only six months.

15. Robust Clubhook Squid (Onykia robusta)

The Robust Clubhook Squid can quickly change its skin colors and patterns to match the colors and patterns of the murky waters of the Pacific Ocean. 

Its habitat covers the North Pacific to the coasts of Japan, New Zealand, and America. Likewise, it lives 300 to 1,000 meters underwater, where daylight is scarce.

They can grow up to two meters and weigh 50 kilograms. Its tentacles are lined with sharp hooks, which it uses for hunting. Once they catch their prey, the squid tears the prey apart with its beak. 

Despite its intimidating appearance, the Robust Clubhook squid is harmless to humans. Moreover, it remains an enigmatic animal with much left to be understood. Some cultures highly value this animal, considering its meat a delicacy. 

The underwater world is home to various types of squid, known for their shape-shifting abilities and intelligence. Join us as we explore the characteristics, habitats, behaviors, diet, and other facts about different squids. Without further adieu, let us take you down to the realm of these ocean dwellers.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) about Squid

1. What is the largest squid?

The longest squid is the Giant Squid, which can grow up to 57 feet long. But the heaviest is the Colossal Squid, which can weigh over 1,000 pounds.

2. How deep in the ocean do squids usually live?

Squids typically inhabit depths from near-surface waters down to around 6,000 feet, depending on the species. However, a recent sighting remarkably documented a Bigfin Squid navigating at an unprecedented depth of 20,380 feet, shattering previously recorded squid depths.

3. Do squid have any natural predators?

Squids have many natural predators, such as larger fish, sharks, whales, and sea birds.

4. Are all types of squid capable of changing color?

Most squid can change color for camouflage, communication, and courtship. They can command the art of color change thanks to their skin's specialized cells, known as chromatophores and photophores.

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1

Hoving, H. J., & Robison, B. H. (2012). Vampire Squid: Detritivores in the Oxygen Minimum Zone. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 279(1747), 4559–4567.

Mike is a degree-qualified researcher and writer passionate about increasing global awareness about climate change and encouraging people to act collectively in resolving these issues.

Fact Checked By:
Isabela Sedano, BEng.

Photo by prilfish on Flickr licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Cropped from original)
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