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Rossia pacifica, Stubby squid<< Cephalopod Species | By Roland C. Anderson
The Stubby squid, Rossia pacifica, is a member of the sepiolid family of cephalopods. Although sepiolids are commonly called squid, they are not true squid. They look like a combination between octopus and squid but are actually more closely related to cuttlefish. Like cuttlefish, they can bury themselves in the sand. Like octopuses, they mostly live on the bottom rather than swimming in the water. They have eight suckered arms and two long tentacles like squid, but don't have a quill or cuttlebone for internal body support. They swim by using the fins on either side of their body or use jet propulsion by taking water into their body cavity and squirting it out a funnel.
Stubby squid (or bobtail squid) live from the lower intertidal region down to 300 m deep around the perimeter of the North Pacific from Japan to Southern California. In Puget Sound scuba divers can see stubby squids at night in the winter. They're found on moderately sloping bottoms consisting of muddy sand in places protected from strong tidal currents. These places usually have access to deeper depths because the squid go deeper in the summer.
At night they sit out on the bottom. They are usually transfixed by a diver's bright light, much like a frog in a pond or a deer transfixed in the road by an auto's lights. During the day they bury themselves in sand or mud, with just their eyes peering out for danger. They dig by blowing jets of water with their funnel to create a depression in the sand. Then they sit in the depression and gather 'handfuls' of sand with two opposing arms and throw it back over their heads onto their bodies to complete their self-burial.
When divers stir them up from their daytime rest the squid will jet away, leaving a blob of ink in its place. The ink is thick and black (most octopus ink is brown) and the blob usually resembles a squid body. Sometimes a diver just sees the ink blob and knows a squid is somewhere in the area.
The stubby squid does well in aquariums, provided they are kept cold (8-10°C) and are fed small live shrimp. The Seattle Aquarium has kept them continuously on display for more than 10 years. Visitors to the Aquarium frequently call them 'cute.' The Aquarium believes it is the only one in the world to show these intriguing animals that combine the mystery and alien-ness of octopuses with the whimsy of cuttlefish.
References and Credits
ReferencesAnderson, R.C. 1987a. Cephalopods at the Seattle Aquarium. Intl. Zoo Yrbk. 26:41-48.
Anderson, R.C. 1987b. Field aspects of the sepiolid squid Rossia pacifica (Berry, 1911). West. Soc. Malac. Ann. Rep. 20:30-32.
Anderson, R.C. 1991. Aquarium husbandry of the sepiolid squid Rossia pacifica. AAZPA Ann. Conf. Proc. 1991. 206-211.
Anderson, R.C. and J.E. Vanderwerff. 1989. In pursuit of the suburban squid. Sea Frontiers. 35(3): 165-169.
Anderson, R.C. and R.L. Shimek. 1994. Field observations of Rossia pacifica (Berry, 1911) egg masses. Veliger. 37(1):117-119
Arkhipkin, A.I. 1995. Statolith microstructure and maximum age of the sepiolid Rossia pacifica (Cephalopoda: Sepioidea) in the northern part of the North Pacific. Sarsia. 80(3):237-240.
Brocco, S.L. 1971. Aspects of the biology of the sepiolid squid Rossia pacifica Berry. M.S. Thesis, Univ. Victoria, B.C. 151pp.
Shimek, R.L. 1983. Escape behavior of Rossia pacifica Berry, 1911. Abstract. Amer. Malac. Bull. 2:91-92.v Summers, W.C. 1985. Ecological implications of life stage timing determined from the cultivation of Rossia pacifica (Mollusca: cephalopoda). Vie et Milieu. 35:249-254.
Summers, W.C. and L.J. Colvin. 1989. On the cultivation of Rossia pacifica (Berry, 1911). J. Ceph. Biol. 1(1):21-31.
CreditsThe text for this page was written by Roland C. Anderson, a biologist at The Seattle Aquarium. The above image is also courtesy of The Seattle Aquarium.
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