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Monterey Bay Aquarium swaps cute for diabolic

By Leonard Ho - Posted May 05, 2014 09:00 AM
Monterey Bay Aquarium is adding two deep-water cephalopods to its newest hit exhibit, Tentacles. The evil-looking vampire squid and Japetella octopus will take the place of the adorable flapjack octopus, which are still with MBA but moved behind the scenes.

flapjackocto2.jpgThe cute and photogenic need their beauty rest.  The two flapjack octopus (photo right) that became the darlings of Monterey Bay Aquarium's Tentacles exhibit have been moved into private aquariums.

MBA has announced that the Japetella octopus and vampire squid will take their place in the public spotlight.  What the two replacements lack in cuteness they more than make up for in wonderful bizarreness.

The Japetella octopus (Japetella sp.)

The Japetella octopus (Japetella sp.) is a beautiful animal that lives in the midwater realm, hundreds of feet below the surface but well above the sea floor. It has chromatophores that enable it to go from see-through with spots to almost a solid orange color. MBARI’s remotely operated vehicles have observed them on video both in Monterey Bay and—even more often—on expeditions to the Gulf of California.


The vampire squid (Vampyroteuthis infernalis) is an ancient animal that lives in deep tropical and temperate waters—like the Monterey submarine canyon. Despite its sinister appearance—and its name, which means “vampire squid from hell”—this animal is a scavenger. It lives on “marine snow” that rains down from above: a mixture of poop, dead animal parts and mucus.

Interestingly enough, the vampire squid is neither really a squid nor an octopus.  It's a sort of frankenstein with characteristics of both, and scientists have placed it in its own order: Vampyromorphida.

Monterey Bay Aquarium swaps cute for diabolic

The vampire squid (Vampyroteuthis infernalis)

Author: Leonard Ho
Location: Southern California

I'm a passionate aquarist of over 30 years, a coral reef lover, and the blog editor for Advanced Aquarist. While aquarium gadgets interest me, it's really livestock (especially fish), artistry of aquariums, and "method behind the madness" processes that captivate my attention.


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