Your morning adorable: Piglet squid smiles for the camera
We don't normally think of the words "planktonic" and "squid" in connection with the word "adorable." We were a bit startled, then, to see this charming close-up photo of a rarely-seen creature called the piglet squid.
Piglet squid are typically found in deep water -- 320 feet or deeper from the ocean's surface. The one in the photo was found in the San Pedro Channel, midway between the mainland and Santa Catalina Island, during a twice-yearly class conducted by the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in which members of the public are allowed to participate in an undersea trawl conducted by aquarium scientists.
Piglet squid are planktonic animals, defined by Cabrillo Marine Aquarium's director, Mike Schaadt, as those creatures that float "at the mercy of ocean currents." They're about the size of an avocado, and those bushy eyebrow-type protuberances are actually eight tentacles and two "arms." A row of pigment-containing, light-reflecting cells called chromatophores are responsible for the appearance of a smile on this particular specimen, and its bright eyes are the result of two light-emitting organs called photophores, which are located behind each of its eyes.
The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is in San Pedro and is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday.
-- Lindsay Barnett
Photo: Gary Florin / Cabrillo Marine Aquarium