Illuminating Biodiversity of the Ningaloo Canyons

Illuminating Biodiversity of the Ningaloo Canyons – ROV Highlights Week 3

ROV SuBastian / SOI
Apr. 06 2020

The #NingalooCanyons expedition continues to bring forth breathtaking scenery, animal life, and discoveries. Fragile glass sponge gardens, ancient geological structures, tiny colonies, and a massive (glowing) squid all make this week’s highlight video well worth watching.

So far, the most questions we have received have been about the squid at end of video. Here are some bullet points about the encounter:

  • It is a Taningia danae (also known as Taning’s Octopus squid).
  • They are distributed circumglobally, known from Australia as well as Indian ocean but no records from WA waters to date.
  • It has a broad muscular mantle and overall large size (max weight 161 kg). This one estimated 1.5m!
  • It is an oceanic species and active predator known for its intense maroon body coloration and large composite photophores that bioluminesce on 2 arm tips – flashed in warning or if startled (this was on full display!).
  • This species does have some of the biggest light organs around, but the flashes seen are reflections when it unmasks the shiny photophores, not genuine bioluminescence. The photophores flashes are relatively bright, but far too dim to show up with the ROV’s lights on.

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