62. The European Squid (Loligo Vulgaris) Wildlife of the Solway
#62 The European Squid (Loligo Vulgaris) Wildlife of the Solway Firth
Although there are several species of squid found in UK waters, their biology and habits are similar.
One species found in The Solway Firth is the European squid which ranges South to North Africa and the Mediterranean, growing up to a size of between 30-40 cm. It is thought rising sea temperatures will see their UK numbers increase from current modest levels to become an important commercial catch.
They can vary their colouration from almost transparent to grey or even dark red using specialised skin cells. Squid have ten tentacles, all grouped forward of the mouth, with two that are much longer and used for reaching out to grab prey that normally consists of fish but can include smaller squid.
Small beak like jaws allow them to rapidly dismantle and ingest food. Fast movement, always backwards, is achieved by jet propulsion as water is rapidly ejected through a tube like structure, whereas slow movement involves gentle use of lateral fins found at the rear of it’s body. Like their relatives the octopus and cuttlefish they can produce a dense black ink to confuse a threatening predator.
Breeding is a once only affair at between 2-3 years old, after which they die. The male passes sperm to the female using a specially adapted tentacle, and she then attaches pale white sausage-like egg masses to seaweed stems or man made structures like rope.
At the aquarium we look out for any of these egg bunches being cast up on the Solway tide line after a storm because if they are still viable and hatch, we have for a while the amazing spectacle for visitors of multicolour swarms of minuscule squid.
To find out more about the remarkable work that the Lake District Coast Aquarium do click here or for an even better experience, visit them in person at on the Maryport Harbourside, South Quay, Maryport, CA15 8AB Longitude/Latitude 54.715112, -3.502742