The details of animal mating can be ruthless, calculated, and remarkably graphic. But it’s a process that must be done for every creature, including the market squid, or Loligo opalescens, which lives—and breeds—along the Pacific coast. Over at Slate, oceanographer Miriam Goldstein has a list of techniques necessary for the foot-long invertebrate to mate successfully—which also means successful eating for the sharks, dolphins, sea lions, and scores of other aquatic creatures who make them a regular lunch. As with just about all marine life, the squid are currently being fished to the brink, making it all the more necessary that their short period of amorousness, which begins this month, comes to fruition.
So just how does a squid have sex, anyway? According to Goldstein:
During mating, the male’s sperm-delivery tentacle grabs a package of sperm, called a spermatophore, from under his mantle, the hatlike covering over the pointed end of the squid. He slips his tentacle under the female’s mantle and deposits the spermatophore next to her oviduct. When she lays the eggs, they brush by the spermatophore and are fertilized.
The steps that males can take to up their reproductive chances range from positioning themselves at the bottom of the sea/orgy to turning their tentacles bright red to intimidate other suitors to “spooning,” or sticking close to a fertilized female to make sure another male doesn’t swoop in at the last minute.
Image: Flickr / ourmanwhere