Nature isn’t always pretty. Everything has to eat something, and most animals have to fight hard for every meal. Sure, it can be easy to feel bad for the animal being eaten, but the alternative just means that the predator will starve to death. A new video from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute shows a black-eyed squid (Gonatus onyx) taking on its potential dinner, an owlfish (Pseudobathylagus milleri). The images were collected by the remotely operated vehicle Doc Ricketts, named for the famed marine biologist Ed Ricketts. This is the first time that a video has shown the squid actively eating its prey.
Black-eyed squid are fairly small, reaching lengths of 10-12 cm (4-5 inches). They live in the Northern Pacific, found in the deep waters between Japan and California. To hunt, the squid use their fishing tentacles, which each have about 30 suckers and hooks in order to latch on to the prey of fish or crustaceans that are swimming in deep waters. Once they have latched on, the squid use their sharp beak (which can be up to 4 mm long) to kill and then eat their prey.
This video shows the squid and the owlfish duking it out in the Monterey Bay, 600 m (1,970 ft) below the surface. Though the squid has some impressive hunting moves, the fish will not go down without a fight. The muscular fish is able to whip its body back and forth very quickly, in hopes of loosening the squid’s grip so that it can swim away to safety. It also is able to shed some of its large, protective scales in an attempt to break free.
In this epic battle between predator and prey, who wins out? Check out the video and see: