Flying Squid

When one thinks of animals that are capable of flight, birds, various insects, flying  squirrels, bats, and certain snakes, fish, and lizards might come to mind. Well, you can add another animal to that list. In 2001, marine biologist Silvia Macia was boating off the coast of Jamaica when she witnessed a squid launch out of the water and seemingly fly through the air before diving back down below the surface. That’s right, flying squid. This sighting prompted prompted Macia and her colleagues to investigate further into squid flight.

These squid have been seen to fly distances up to 10 meters and heights of 3 meters above the surface. While 10 meters distance may not seem that large, you must take into account that these squid are a mere 20 centimeters on average. So flying ten meters is flying 50 times there body length. That’s like me taking off and flying the length of a football field.


Source: see below.

While the complete mechanics of squid flight are yet to be confirmed, the main source of thrust is jet propulsion. Jet propulsion is the expelling of a jet of liquid or gas, in this case ocean water, in the opposite direction of motion. Thus by the law of conservation of momentum, the squid is then propelled forward.

The more peculiar aspect of their flight is the use of their fins and tentacles. When soaring through the air they appear to flap their fins and spiral their tails. While it is yet to be confirmed, many suspect that the fins are acting as wings, aiding to the lift generation. Scientists are now analyzing photos of the squids in flight, hoping to calculate their velocity as well as other details.



Thomas Your posted on December 13, 2011 at 12:17 am

Flying squid? That’s awesome.

Lorena Barba posted on December 13, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Oh, but they are really small creatures! I didn’t realise that, they are really about the size of a bird.
For reference, here is EK131 student David diCaprio’s post on the same topic:
and also Sam Nicols’