Sure, there are plenty of fictional monsters known to provide a scare or two come Halloween, but they don’t hold a candle to some of the terrifying creatures found in the sea!

Do you think vampires are scary? Wait until you see a vampire squid!

The following are five facts about vampire squid that will blow your mind (or suck your blood!).

It’s a real Frankenstein’s monster

What do we mean by this? Well, the vampire squid is unique in that it’s a cephalopod that shares characteristics with both squids and octopuses. In fact, it was mistakenly identified as an octopus back in 1903. If these characteristics weren’t confusing enough, it also resembles a jellyfish due to its gelatinous form.

vampire squid
Image: Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

It uses jet propulsion; there’s no running – or swimming – away from a vampire squid

This is because it has a specialized siphon jet under its mantle that allows it to use jet propulsion to fly through the water, reaching upwards of two body lengths per second. So if you can’t run, you’d better hide, right? Nope – there’s no running or hiding from this underwater terror. Vampire squids have the biggest eyes relative to the size of their body than any other animal. If that wasn’t scary enough, its eyes often appear red in color!

It’s called a vampire squid for a reason

You might be wondering where this creature got its name from. Well, besides its red eyes, the vampire squid will create a defensive web by raising its eight arms over itself. Its arms are connected with a webbing of skin, so when it does this, it looks like a vampire raising its cape.

vampire squid
Image: Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

It has the power of invisibility

The vampire squid is covered with photophores, which are light-producing organs. This means that vampire squids can use a chemical process called bioluminescence to turn themselves on and off. When it turns the photophores off in dark water, where it typically lives, it becomes completely invisible to the eyes of nearby predators.

It lives in the dark

Just like its namesake, vampire squids stay away from the light. They can be found between 300 and 3,000 feet below the water in the oxygen-minimal layers of the ocean, where you’ll find very little light.


While it’s extremely unlikely we would ever see a vampire squid on a dive, it’s important to preserve all the animals that live beneath the waves. Check out Project AWARE to learn more about how scuba divers are protecting the oceans.

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