Piglet Squid

Piglet squid. Image copyright of the SERPENT project

It's little surprise that the piglet squid (Helicocranchia sp) has so many admirers. With its cute tuft of hair-like arms and tentacles, funny balloon-like body and quizzical expression, it's hard to resist. It has a habit of swelling itself with water, possibly to deter predators, but even then it would only be about the size of an avocado! See great piglet squid images in our media archive.

This little creature was found under the Normand Progress oil drilling vessel at a depth of 1050 meters at the Bonga oilfield, off the Nigerian coast, Africa. it was floating serenly by next to a subsea oil and gas structure, curious about the massive ROV that was taking its picture. At these depths it would be subjected to a pressure of about 105 kilos per square centimetre (or 2940 pounds per square inch). That's like having a small family car resting all it's weight on your big toe!

What does that kind of pressure look like? See the video below.

Here's a video showing a polystyrene cup decending down to about the same depth as the piglet squid in our picture. On the surface, at an atmospheric pressure of 14.7 pounds per square inch, the cup stands 4 inches tall. As the remotely operated sub descends, the pressure compresses the Styrofoam and the cup shrinks. Below 3,000 feet, under pressure 100 times greater than that at the surface, the cup shrivels to about half of its original size.

Below 1000 metres, light has ceased to penetrate the ocean and our piglet squid would normally be in very cold pitch blackness, its large eyes seeking out glimmers of bioluminescence and possibly using other senses to monitor its surroundings. Imagine how weird it must be to the piglet to come across such an intense light source illuminating its otherwise inky world.

If you enjoyed finding out about the piglet squid, have a look at our Media Archive pages to view some of the weird and wonderful creatures that have been found with the help of our industrial partners, especially the ROV pilots who work on oil and gas rigs and vessels. It is thanks to their skill and dedication that we are able to bring you these images.

More about the piglet squid:

Tree of Life web project