Dana Octopus Squid: 15 Facts You Won't Believe!

Dana Octopus Squid Fact File

The Dana octopus squid (Taningia danae) is a deep-sea cephalopod, belonging to the family Octopoteuthidae. These squids are known for displaying bioluminescence with the help of photophores on their arm II. These cephalopods are found throughout the oceans of the world, except the Arctic.

Dana octopus squids are exceptionally large in size, with the length of their mantle reaching up to 5.6 ft (170 cm). They have eight arms and tentacles which keep reducing as they grow older. This has caused them to be named octopus squids. Dana octopus squids use bioluminescence to hunt for their prey and protect themselves. It is also used as part of their mating displays and territorial behavior. These cephalopods are extremely agile swimmers and can swim both forward and backward. Even though they are most commonly found in deeper waters, they do spend part of their life in the upper regions of oceans. The most common predator of Dana octopus squid is the sperm whale. Most of these animals that have been observed have been either caught by fishermen as bycatch or were found in the stomach of a sperm whale. Further research will enable scientists to understand more about the various behaviors of this species.

For more relatable content, check out these stingray facts and ray facts for kids.

Dana Octopus

Fact File

What do they prey on?


What do they eat?


Average litter size?

250,000 ovarian eggs

How much do they weigh?

Up to 356 lb (161.4 kg)

How long are they?

Mantle length: 5.6 ft (170 cm)

Total length: 7.5 ft (228.6 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Pink in color with tentacles that are reduced to small appendages

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Sperm whale

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Tropical, subtropical, and temperate waters


Circumglobal distribution





Scientific Name

Taningia danae





Dana Octopus Squid Fun Facts

What do Dana octopus squids look like?

The Dana octopus squid is quite large in appearance. They appear pink in color and have eight tentacles. However, these tentacles are reduced to small appendages in young adults and might be completely absent in adult squids of this species. They have large photophores present at the tip of the second arm, while the other arms are devoid of photophores. Their mouth and beak, which is made up of chitin, are located at the central base of their arms. The arms are provided with hooks that help them in bringing the food to their mouth.

* Please note the main image is of a bobtail squid, not a Dana octopus squid specifically. If you have an image of a Dana octopus squid, please let us know at

Dana octopus squids fall prey to sperm whales.

How cute are they?

This eight-armed squid may not be considered cute by most people. However, their characteristics and behavior are remarkable and let us catch a glimpse of marine life.

How do they communicate?

Taningia danae squids mainly communicate through their ability to create bioluminescence. They produce light as a warning signal or as a form of protective counter illumination. Also, male squids participate in extensive mating rituals which can be considered to be a form of communication before copulation takes place.

How big is a Dana octopus squid?

The Dana octopus squid (Taningia danae) is very large in size. Their mantle length can reach up to 5.6 ft (170 cm), while the total Dana octopus squid length is up to 7.5 ft (228.6 cm). The Dana octopus squid is almost seven times larger compared to the vampire squid, which grows up to 1 ft (30 cm).

How fast can Dana octopus squids move?

This deep-sea squid is observed to be exceptionally fast. Dana octopus squid fins are quite strong and let them swim in both directions and change directions quite efficiently. A squid of this species was provided with bait and was observed to attack it with a speed of 4.4-5.5 mph (7.2-9 kph).

How much does a Dana octopus squid weigh?

The highest recorded weight of a Dana octopus squid was a female specimen which weighed 356 lb (161.4 kg). However, they are much lighter than another squid species, known as the colossal squid, which weighs between 992-1102 lb (450-500 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Male and female squids of this species are known as male Dana octopus squid and female Dana octopus squid.

What would you call a baby Dana octopus squid?

A baby Dana octopus squid is known as a paralarva.

What do they eat?

Dana octopus squids are thought to be carnivorous as they mainly feed on fish. The retractable hooks present in their arms suggest that their diet includes fish. One of the known fish species in their diet is the blue whiting. These squids attack their prey by producing blinding flashes of light from the photophores at the tip of their arms. Not only does this bioluminescent behavior helps in startling their prey, but it also illuminates the prey and makes it easier for the squid to feed on them. However, much more research is required to get a better understanding of their feeding and hunting biology.

Are they dangerous?

There aren't any known instances of these squids being dangerous to humans. However, they are dangerous for their prey which they capture with great skills.

Would they make a good pet?

Given the habitat requirements of the deep sea Dana octopus squid, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to keep this species as a pet.

Did you know...

The activities of the Dana octopus squid in its habitat were captured for the first time by Tsunemi Kubodera in 2005. Kubodera and his team filmed a Dana octopus squid using the photophores at the tip of its arm II to capture its prey.

The unique feature about the Taningia danae is that they have the largest photophores among all known animals.

What does the Dana octopus squid use its light producing organs for?

The Dana octopus squid adaptation includes bioluminescence and the science behind this is fascinating. These squids use this behavior for a variety of purposes. The most important use of Dana octopus squid photophores is the capturing of prey. They flash the photophores present at the tip of their arm II to startle their prey which helps in easy capture. Additionally, they have also been observed to use flashes as a warning signal for predators, like sperm whales. The light flashing aids during courtship and territorial displays too. They have visceral photophores which flash for over 15 minutes and are thought to act as counter-illumination and provide them with protection in the deep waters.

What is an octopus squid?

The Dana octopus squid (Taningia danae) is called this because it lacks the long tentacles which are a characteristic feature of squids and are used to differentiate between squids and octopuses. Their tentacles keep shrinking as they age and might just be reduced to small appendages by the time they are adults. Some key differences that separate squids from an octopus are they have fins that are not seen in octopuses, and they have tentacles which are completely absent in an octopus.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish from our minke whale facts and irrawaddy dolphin facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable giant freshwater stingray coloring pages.



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