Time and time again, mother nature proves to be anything but boring! Just when we think life on Earth can’t be more incredible, enter: squids, in flight. Their recently confirmed skill of gliding outside of the water makes it hard not to think about the amazing possibilities yet to be found in our own lives!

Birds often get all of the credit when it comes to the world of flight, but just wait until you see how these flying squid make it happen. The limits of what you think is possible are about to be put to the test because, honestly, we still don’t really know why they do it!

Image: close up image of a colorful squid

Source: Wikimedia

So, how exactly do squid… fly?

Let me start by saying their technique doesn’t look at all like that of a bird or insect. Instead of wings, they extend their tentacles out and jet water through their mantles (that big, main part of their body). With this method, they can shoot out of the water and glide above surface for up to 50 meters! (That’s about 160 feet—way longer than the length of a blue whale.)

For centuries, sailors noted squids’ strange flying behavior, but their observations were never taken seriously until recently. In the age of cameras, researchers and sailors were finally able to physically document the behavior in pictures and videos. 1

Today, six species of squid have been observed performing this behavior, though the exact motivations behind their flight is still a mystery. 2

This wonderful video from TED-Ed gives us a closer look at how our aquatic friends can take flight!

Via: TED-Ed 3

Find more great educational videos over on TED-Ed’s YouTube channel!

If a squid can fly… what else is possible?!

Even after learning about what a squid has to do to fly, it still boggles my mind. I was left with one question: if a squid can fly, what can’t we do? Over the course of our history, we’ve come up with solutions to an incredible amount of problems. We’ve broken so many glass ceilings and proven the impossible to be possible time and time again. Just as these squids have found a way to break the water’s surface and fly!

You may doubt that there’s anything to learn from the flight of a squid, but humans have learned from animals so many times before. Whether detecting cancer with the power of dogs or utilizing ducks instead of pesticides, there is an entire future of innovation to be explored within the animal kingdom. And who knows what insight we may glean from squids’ remarkable power of flight.

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If you’re ever feeling down, perhaps think of this squid, using all its might to do the impossible. And remember, much like them, you can accomplish far more than you—and others—may think!

Stay safe, and fly high!

  • Owen

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Notes:

  1. TED-Ed. “These Squids Can Fly… No, Really – Robert Siddall.” YouTube, 11 Jan. 2021, www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMq89roPycI. Accessed 2 Feb. 2021.
  2. “Flight of the Squid.” Science, 20 Feb. 2013, www.nationalgeographic.com/science/phenomena/2013/02/20/flight-of-the-squid/#:~:text=Caribbean%20reef%20squid%2C%20Sepioteuthis%20sepioidea,ommastrephid%20squid%20in%20the%20northwestern. Accessed 3 Feb. 2021.
  3. TED-Ed. “These Squids Can Fly… No, Really – Robert Siddall.” YouTube, 11 Jan. 2021, www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMq89roPycI. Accessed 2 Feb. 2021.

Owen is a junior at Bellows Free Academy and has been an intern with Ever Widening Circles since May of 2019. He is the editor of the Mercury, BFA's school newspaper, and a volunteer at Northwestern Medical Center.