Birth Video of Thousands of Glowing Baby Squid is Wonderfully Weird

Clawed armhook squid may sound sinister, but squid moms nurture their brood at great risk to themselves.

Squid can seem pretty scary. Some grow up to 46 feet long, they have hard, sharp beaks for tearing at prey, and their large, saucer-like eyes stare back with the soulless hunger of an H.P. Lovecraft monster. But that’s not the whole story. Squid are misunderstood. They also produce their own ink (which saves them a lot of money on printer cartridges), have long, grasping tentacles for snug, intimate deep-sea hugging, and they have three hearts, because they have so much love to give.

Nowhere is that love more apparent than in the brooding behavior of the Gonatus onyx, or clawed armhook squid. Like a few other cephalopod species, the mother armhook holds her eggs in an undulating sac she grasps in her tentacles for up to nine months, a devotion which leaves her vulnerable to predators. Living over a mile deep in the ocean where oxygen is scarce, these squid pump oxygen to the sac, from which thousands of tiny squidlets will eventually emerge.

In this video, shot by Brent Hoff from a Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) submarine, we can see the amazing birth of thousands of baby squid, swarming and glowing like fireflies in the glimmer of the sub’s powerful lights. Hoff first shot the video in 2002, but according to Business Insider, it's been “making the rounds on the internet again this week with Hoff's haunting Vimeo video.” You can see the mother squid appear about three minutes into the clip.