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The Ram's Horn Squid: An Enigma wrapped in a Riddle?

 

Ever wonder what this shell is actually from? It is not from a snail, which is the most common answer we get here at Mission Clean Beaches!



Spirula spirula shell found at the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in Melbourne Beach Florida USA during a marine litter survey performed by Mission Clean Beaches. Shell diameter approximately 1.5 centimeters.



 Did you know this shell is from the INSIDE of a squid?!? Actually a deep sea squid that isn't well studied! A squid is a type of cephalopod. Cephalopods are a type of predatory mollusk—class of octopus, squid and cuttlefish, and nautilus. This DEEP SEA species is Spirula spirula, The Ram’s horn squid.


It's always a treat to find one of these while doing a beach clean up survey! They wash ashore periodically and land in the wrackline. I love the spiral symmetry of the shell. The chambers of the shell have a bouancy function to move the squid up and down in the water column. This function is also why you tend to find them washed up on the beach because their coiled shells float along with the wind and ocean currents. Be careful if you do find one of these shells because while hard they are quite fragile and will break easily.



Illustration credit: inaturalist.org


It is rather rare to find a living specimen because they inhabit the deep ocean. The shell on the other hand is perfect to float across the sea onto the shores. Have you ever found one of these shells while walking the beaches? Please comment, share and engage with our blog posts! We are trying to build our reading auidience and spread the word and knowledge about marine organisms, their habitat and ecosystem! We fully believe that education and knowledge is at the heart of passion and protection of our natural resources like the marine ecosystems and wildlife that call it home! The more you know about something, the more likely you are to love and protect it! Check out the link below to see a rare video of the Ram's Horn Squid in it's natural habitat.


 

 

 A rare glimpse into the life of a Ram’s Horn Squid can be seen via NYT by Schmidt Ocean.




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Great article Nikia! Will have to let my son read as well :)

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