Animals

Flying Squid: 21 Facts You Won’t Believe!

Japanese flying squid facts about the marine animal native to open oceans.
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One very distinctive creature that swims in the depths and darkness of the 0cean is a squid. Eight arms with suckers, a big elongated head, and a bilateral body symmetry are a few features of these ocean predators. A squid is enjoyed as cuisine across a lot of Asian countries such as Japan, Korea, China, and Taiwan. This fact file is about the flying squid species which includes the Japanese flying squid and neon flying squid. A flying squid uses a jet propulsion mechanism to travel above the water surface and covers over 98.4 ft (30 m) distance. It does so to save energy and avoid predators. The Japanese flying squid belongs to the genus Todarodes and is scientifically known as Todarodes pacificus. This species spreads out both the fins and eight tentacles to form wings and glide through the air.

You will be surprised to know that initially, this squid species was considered to be a member of the flying fish family. The age of flying squid can be determined on the basis of the growth ring of the flying squid. Here are some fun facts about the flying squid for your perusal. Afterward, do check our other articles on the Humboldt squid and giant squid as well.

Flying Squid

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Aquatic crustaceans, crabs, fish, zooplankton

What do they eat?

Carnivores

Average litter size?

300-4000 eggs

How much do they weigh?

1.1 lb (0.5 kg)

How long are they?

19.6 in (50 cm)

How tall are they?

Medium size

What do they look like?

Gray-black body with a long mantle and two fins at the front, two eyes, tube on the head

Skin Type

Slimy exoskeleton

What are their main threats?

Sperm whales, baleen whales, sea birds

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans

Locations

Coastal regions of Japan and China

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Cephalopoda

Scientific Name

Todarodes pacificus Ommastrephes bartramii

Family

Ommastrephidae

Genus

Todarodes Ommastrephes

Flying Squid Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a flying squid?

The flying squid is an invertebrate, a mollusk, a cephalopod, and is a relative of the octopus. Native to the northern Pacific Ocean, a flying squid has a large head – namely a mantle covering the visceral mass and eight legs with suckers on them. The Japanese flying squid uses a siphon for jet propulsion to propel itself above the water surface, and then use the fins to glide.

What class of animal does a flying squid belong to?

A flying squid is a mollusk, an aquatic invertebrate belonging to the phylum Mollusca in the kingdom Animalia. It further belongs to the family Ommastrephidae, the family of squids having 11 genera and 20 species. This family then further belongs to the order Oegopsida, the order of squids fished for food mainly. It has a gray-black body with a long mantle and two fins at the front with two eyes and a tube on the head.

How many flying squids are there in the world?

Flying squids breed in good numbers and are spotted all across the Pacific Ocean. Their population count is not really known but the species has been listed as that of Least Concern in terms of conservation efforts required.

Where does a flying squid live?

The squid is an aquatic animal that dwells in the ocean water, specifically the Pacific Ocean near the coastal regions of China, Korea, Japan, Russia also towards Alaska and Canada. It also spends a considerable time in the air. As a matter of fact, the speed through the air is almost five times faster than inside the water.

What is a flying squid's habitat?

Unlike bigger squids that inhabit the lower darker regions of the ocean, a flying squid is found in the upper surface of the ocean water and lives in the temperature range of 41-80 F (5-27 C). It can be found at depths of up to 1640 ft (500 m) in the oceans.

Who do flying squids live with?

Flying squids are mostly seen traveling in groups of about 20 squids in total. This helps them stay in the safety of their own group and away from predators.

How long does a flying squid live?

This small squid has a very short life span. Living and surviving in the ocean is not easy and hence these flying squids live for around one to two years.

How do they reproduce?

A squid’s life cycle starts with a larval stage that matures while towards East China and Japan for spawning. A male matures earlier than the female and transfers its spermatophores on the immature female who when reaching maturing spawns around 400-4000 eggs which hatch after a span of five days. These larvae then complete the life cycle of a squid. A squid is a cephalopod relative of an octopus, a cuttlefish, and a nautilus.

What is their conservation status?

According to the IUCN, a flying squid falls under the Least Concern category. Their population is stable for now but overfishing of these squids for trading can impose a threat on their breeding population.

Flying Squid Fun Facts

What do flying squids look like?

An adult squid has a mantle enclosing the visceral mass, a pair of fins that may aid them in swimming. A squid has a muscle namely a siphon that aids in jet propulsion that helps in taking water from one side and pushing it out through the other side. It has eight arms and two tentacles with suckers on them. Between these arms, it has a beak, and inside it has a radula or tongue. It also has ink sacs that are used as a defense mechanism against possible predators.

The Japanese flying squid propels itself out of the water using a jet of water.
*Please note that this is an image of a bigfin reef squid, not a flying squid. If you have an image of a flying squid, please let us know at hello@kidadl.com.

How cute are they?

A baby squid may be cute but not everyone finds it cute. They are kind of gross and avoided by many people.

How do they communicate?

A flying squid just like any other squid can communicate via bioluminescence and skin color change. These mechanisms are able to provide proper signals such as warnings to shun away the predators or to warn other squids.

How big is a flying squid?

A  flying squid is a medium-sized squid and may measure around 19.6 in (50 cm) in length.

How fast can flying squids move?

This squid uses gliding movement to move around 26 mph (42 kph). It can remain airborne for about three or more seconds. In this much span of time, they are able to cover around 100 ft (30 m) in just one flight.

How much does a flying squid weigh?

A flying squid does not weigh a lot. An average adult squid may weigh around 1.1 lb (0.5 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Male and female squids do not really have a separate name. They are referred to as male flying squid and female flying squid and can be distinguished from one another by a few physical features.

What would you call a baby flying squid?

A baby squid is called a larva. An unhatched larva, in a group of eggs around 400 or more is referred to as spawn.

What do they eat?

A squid in adult age becomes a cannibal and feeds on fish, aquatic crustaceans, and other small aquatic creatures. A squid larva feeds on phytoplankton and zooplanktons until it becomes mature.  

The predators for flying squids are whales such as sperm whales, baleen whales, sea birds.

Are they dangerous?

They are not very dangerous but you need to be careful in their vicinity. They have ink glands that can be dangerous as they are a form of defense mechanism adopted by these cephalopods.

Would they make a good pet?

Flying squids are meant to be in the wild and not to be taken as pets. Even if you take them as pets, you need to have a proper setup for these aquatic beings.

Did you know...

Squids are a major part of diets in many Asian countries. Japan is the largest consumer of squid and mainly uses them in the preparation of sushi. Around 400,00 tonnes of squids are caught by the Japanese just for the purpose of their consumption as a food product.

While squids have an amazing flying posture, they can't jump out of water.

Different types of flying squid

There are two very popular species of flying squid and these are the Japanese flying squid and the neon flying squid. Neon flying squids show bioluminescence. A neon flying squid is slightly larger in size than a Japanese flying squid. The mantle length of a neon flying squid measures between 0.95-1.05 ft (0.29-0.32 m) which is smaller than a Japanese flying squid.

How far can flying squids fly?

A flying squid does not actually fly, but using a jet propulsion mechanism to move forwards above the water surface. It moves with a gliding movement and in about three seconds it can move about 30 ft (9 m) in the air.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other cephalopods from our coconut octopus facts and mimic octopus facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable flying squid coloring pages.

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