SCIENCE

Japanese Flying Squid's Abilities Confirmed, Speed Measured By Scientists

02/09/2013 11:08 am ET | Updated Feb 09, 2013

There have been numerous sightings of a certain type of Japanese squid "flying" above the ocean's surface, and now scientists have offered an explanation.

How does the Japanese flying squid catch air? It releases a high-pressured water jet for propulsion, and then spreads its fins like wings to glide above the water, according to a new study from marine biologists at Hokkaido University.

What's more, the squid can speed through the air at over 11 meters per second. That's faster than Usain Bolt, who averaged only 10.3 meters per second in the 2012 London Olympics.

"There were always witnesses and rumors that said squid were seen flying, but no one had clarified how they actually do it," biologist Jun Yamamoto of Hokkaido University told AFP. "We have proved that it really is true."

flying squidImage taken by Kouta Muramatsu of Hokkaido University on July 25, 2011 shows the oceanic squid flying in the air in the northwest Pacific Ocean.

The researchers tracked about 100 squid in the northwest Pacific Ocean in July 2011, and there they observed the creatures launching into the air. When flying, the squid can remain airborne for about three seconds and travel upwards of about 30 meters, Yamamoto told AFP.

He added that as the squid are vulnerable when flying, it's possible they may be a source of food for sea birds or other predators.

(hat tip, AFP)

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