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Southern Calamari Kraken

By Pascal Geraghty on November 19, 2015 in Other

Photo: Pascal Geraghty

Photo: Pascal Geraghty

What would you do if you only lived for a year? If your entire existence was condensed into twelve short months, how would you make the most of it? What would you cram in before keeling over?

Would you travel and explore the world, or think what’s the point and just while away your time slothed on the couch, genitalia in hand, watching footy? Would you bother keeping fit and eating healthily or would you embrace a drug, booze and burger problem with open arms? Would you surf fulltime, chasing waves to all corners of the globe or would you prioritise ploughing as many of the opposite sex as possible?

If you’re leaning towards the latter option you have something in common with Southern Calamari Squid.

With a lifespan of under a year, their days are numbered straight off the bat, but rather than moping around feeling sorry for themselves, Southern Calamari Squid take the metaphorical bull shark by the jaws and go out in rock star style, enjoying a rollicking life of jet-propelled swimming, hunting and promiscuity. Living the dream.

Newly hatched Southern Calamari Squid are miniscule in length, measuring about half a centimetre, and enter the world as miniature adults. They grow up to be sexually dimorphic. That is, the two sexes are noticeably different in their appearance. In this case, the boys grow noticeably larger than the girls.

Southern Calamari Squid are generous, artistic lovers. Reaching sexual maturity at about seven to eight months, they go hell for leather before kicking the bucket. The males impress by staging elaborate courtship shows involving complex postures and spectacular colour changes. The performance climaxes with the male hand delivering a pre-prepared packet of sperm to the female in a manoeuvre Australia Post would be proud of. The actual mating only lasts about two seconds, so about average for Australian men. Fuelled by unbridled passion, or perhaps dissatisfaction, the females go on to mate with a number of males. They store the sperm before spawning in shallow waters in summer, laying multiple batches of eggs attached to seagrass, seaweed and rocky reefs.

Our local squid species is also predominantly active at night and is a fast, aggressive predator that feeds mostly on small fish and crustaceans. It is a social animal, often swimming in small groups, and communicates via changes in body colour patterns. If threatened it sprays a wad of dark purple ink in defence, designed as a decoy for a quick escape.

Catching calamari on squid jigs is fun for all the family, especially when salt and pepper get involved. Next time you hook up on one, though, just remember that you’re rudely interrupting their fun and making their short life even shorter. Consider that wad of ink in the face well deserved!

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