The vampire squid

Imagine this thing leaping on your face during a late-night skinny dip. The vampire squid is a strange, finned octopod, black with large red eyes and two luminous organs glowing on its back. It was discovered in the early 1900s and given the name Vampyroteuthis infernalis – the vampire squid from Hell...

 Images courtesy of  Opulent Oceans , by Melanie LJ. Stiassny, published by Sterling 

Images courtesy of Opulent Oceans, by Melanie LJ. Stiassny, published by Sterling 

Vampire squid have been found in temperate and tropical oceans, living at depths between 600 and 900 metres. We now know they're not true squid and are also not vampires – in fact, they are the only known celaphod that is not an active predator. It feeds on detritus (the remains and waste of marine organisms) that rains down from the surface waters. It collects this ‘marine snow’ in mucous produced by a pair of modified arms; and forms it into balls of food that are passed into the mouth and ingested. Just heavenly.  

You can hang a fine print of the vampire squid up in your bathroom, along with other vintage prints of marine creatures, including sea urchins, jellyfish and whales, which come with the new book Opulent Oceans, published by Stirling.  

Opulent Oceans is published by Sterling. The stunning book includes essays and accounts from early naturalists and comes with 40 frameable art prints of sea creatures. You can order a copy from easternbiological.co.uk; £38