Like a jewel dancing in the water, this baby opalescent squid (Doryteuthis opalescens), called a paralarva, sucks water into the main part of its body (the mantle cavity) and squirts it out a narrow siphon. This swimming motion is called jet propulsion.
Watch the two little flaps attached to the top part of its body. Those are its fins – they act like rudders by steering and stabilizing the squid as it moves through the water (see the video below). Can you think of any other animals that move this way?
In March, the Vancouver Aquarium reared close to 400 of these tiny paralarvae, which were the size of a grain of rice. Just like taking care of a human baby, there is a lot of work that goes into raising squid babies. For instance, they need to be constantly fed. That’s because they are practicing how to eat – they’re not always good at hunting on the first try.
This species is found in coastal waters from Alaska to Mexico and can grow up to about the length of a ruler (roughly 30 cm).
A paralarva’s body will continue to change as it matures. You’re looking at the pigment cells on its translucent skin called chromatophores. An adult squid controls its chromatophores to change its colours so it breaks up its outline to confuse predators, and to attract a mate.
Scientists use the number and arrangement of these chromatophores on their skin to identify different species of squid hatchlings.