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Strawberry Squid with Different Colored Eyes Spotted in Twilight Zone off California Coast Amazes Scientists

strawberry squid
strawberry squid. Source: YouTube, Channel: MBARI

A remarkable discovery in 2022 in the twilight zone off California’s coast had marine scientists in disbelief. It was a ‘strawberry squid’ with one small blue eye and one large green eye which seemed to look in two different directions. The twilight zone, or mesopelagic zone, is an ocean depth with minimal light, where marine life relies on faint silhouettes to locate prey.

The strawberry squid

strawberry squid
The Strawberry Squid. Source: YouTube, Channel: MBARI

The giant squid whose color and appearance resembled that of a strawberry was filmed in Monterey Canyon in Monterey Bay near Moss Landing, California at a depth of 2,378 feet. Scientifically known as (Histioteuthis heteropsis), It was the first-time marine researchers were able to capture high resolution videos of such a remarkable creature in the ocean depths.

Why is it called the strawberry squid

strawberry squid in deep
An elusive creature. Source: YouTube, Channel: MBARI

The strawberry squid gets its name from its deep red pigmentation and tiny little organs called photophores that appear like luminous spots all over its body. This makes it resemble a strawberry complete with seeds.

The reason for its unique appearance

red squid
It is deep red in color. Source: YouTube, Channel: MBARI

Food is limited in the deep sea, so animals develop unique methods to find it and avoid predators. The strawberry squid’s bright red coloration helps it stay hidden from predators like sperm whales and sharks. Moreover, to other creatures it appears black because red light does not reach the deep sea.

It has two unique eyes

The strawberry squid with different colored eyes. Source: YouTube, Channel: MBARI

This squid has two different-sized eyes, one blue and one green which it uses to spot predators and hunt prey. The larger green eye looks upwards to help it detect prey shadows in dim light. Its tubular shape maximizes light capture, enhanced by a yellow lens to penetrate prey camouflage

Its smaller eye helps it hunt predators

squid with small eye
Its smaller eye is used for hunting. Source: YouTube, Channel: MBARI

The smaller right blue eye focuses downward, scanning for bioluminescent flashes from potential prey or predators below. This distinctive eye size difference has earned it the nickname “cockeyed squid.” The squid tricks predators with a feature called counter-illumination – it produces light to mask its silhouette blending into its background and surroundings to hide.

They use counter illumination

camouflaged squid
It uses clever camouflage tactics. Source: YouTube, Channel: MBARI

Strawberry squids use counter-illumination to avoid detection by matching the color of the water above them with their photophores. This technique minimizes the contrast of their dark bodies against the lighter surface, effectively making them invisible to predators lurking below.

A wily Predator

squid with green eye
It has one large green eye. Source: YouTube, Channel: MBARI

By using counter-illumination, strawberry squids not only evade predators but also approach their prey unnoticed. This stealthy tactic allows them to get close to unsuspecting targets, ensuring a successful hunt.

It produces a black ink cloud to stay hidden

strawberry squid in ocean
A smart predator. Source: YouTube, Channel: MBARI

The strawberry squid produces a dense ink cloud known as a pseudomorph, which is large enough to obscure its body. Interestingly, studies have shown that after releasing this cloud, the squid doesn’t always use jet propulsion to escape quickly.

Defensive Strategy

large strawberry squid
A larger specimen spotted. Source: YouTube, Channel: Indoona

Sometimes, instead of fleeing, the strawberry squid remains still within the dark ink cloud it created. This tactic allows the squid to wait for the predator to lose interest and move away.


Oceanic twilight zone
The Ocean Twilight Zone. Source: YouTube, Channel: Natural World Facts

The strawberry squid lives in the mesopelagic zone, also known as the twilight zone. The mesopelagic twilight zone, ranging from 200 to 1,000 meters deep, is characterized by minimal light. Marine life here adapts to low visibility, often using bioluminescence for hunting and camouflage. This zone is crucial for understanding deep-sea biodiversity and the survival strategies of various ocean species.


deep sea rover
A deep-sea rover. Source: YouTube, Channel: MBARI

Marine scientists discovered the squid using an unmanned submersible fitted with a 4K camera to capture high resolution footage of the creature. The first time ever stunning footage was captured at a depth of 2,378 feet in Monterey Canyon.

An amazing discovery

A large strawberry Squid
A large strawberry squid. Source: YouTube, Channel: Amaze Lab

The mantle of the strawberry squid (excluding its eyes and appendages) can grow up to 5 inches (13 centimeters) long. On March 23, the MBARI team tweeted about their discovery during a deep-sea dive, stating, “Fresh from the deep! Our team encountered the remarkable strawberry squid (Histioteuthis heteropsis) at a depth of 725 meters (2,378 feet) in Monterey Canyon.”

Research Significance

an amazing discovery
An amazing video capture. Source: YouTube, Channel: MBARI

Finding such a creature in the twilight zone is rare and exciting. It provides valuable insights into deep-sea biodiversity. Understanding these creatures helps in marine conservation efforts. Protecting their habitats ensures the survival of diverse marine life.

History behind the discovery

small strawberry squid
A small strawberry squid in aquarium. Source: YouTube, Channel: OctoNation

First discovered by U.S. land-dwellers in the late 1800s, the strawberry squid inhabits the tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. This intriguing cephalopod prefers the mesopelagic zone, also known as the twilight zone, residing between 200-1,000 meters (~650-3,300 feet) below the surface.

It participates in the largest migration on the planet

deep sea fish
deep sea migration. Image by Thejamez via Depositphotos

Research has found how the strawberry squid is part of the world’s largest migration known as diel vertical migration (DVM)? Trillions of marine animals including the strawberry squid move to shallower depths of 300-400 meters (900-1,300 feet).

Future Research

Research continues on the strawberry squid. Source: YouTube, Channel: MBARI

Continued exploration of the deep sea may reveal more about the strawberry squid. Each discovery adds to our knowledge of ocean life. We hope you liked these facts about the strawberry squid. Now watch the video which is incredible.

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