Pigs Won’t Fly, But Squids Will
I used to think that pigs, much less squids, could never sprout wings and fly. But our tentacled friend has sure come close to this absurdity. It may not have wings, but the Ommastrephes bartramii, more conveniently known as the Squid, can jet out of the water and go airborne. In the past, it was not known whether Squid could really fly or were just like fish out of the water. Now, new light has been shed and it has been proven that their presence out of the water is not due simply because of random jet propulsion of water; it is an advantage which they exploit.
Image taken by Kouta Muramatsu of Hokkaido University on July 25, 2011 shows the oceanic squid flying in the air in the northwest Pacific Ocean.
According to the article “Oceanic Squid Do Fly“, in a brief but intense period of time, the Squid first increases its speed as it nears the surface and takes in water. The water is then released under high pressure suddenly, giving the squid force great enough to leave the surface of the water and into a the air. It then glides by spreading out its body, similar to the opening of a parachute, providing the animal with a lift force that is evidence of its flying mechanisms. Finally, the curtains close on this grand spectacle as the Squid folds in its tentacles and makes for a streamlined dive back into the water.
Such flying capabilities are also gifted to the Exocoetus volitans according to the article “How and why do fish fly?“, commonly known as the flying fish. So why fly? Well, the simplest deductions are that it is a form of defence mechanism: to avoid predators, vessels and fishing nets. Yet again, the beauty is not in the result but the thought behind it. By switching the medium of movement, refraction causes the predator to lose them. A simple execution, but still a difference between life and death.
K. Muramatsu, J. Yamamoto, T. Abe, K. Sekiguchi, N. Hoshi and Y. Sakurai, 2013, Oceanic Squid Do Fly.
Davenport, J., 1994, How and why do flying fish fly?, Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries, 4, 184-214