Looks like Olympic Gold medalist Usain Bolt may finally have some competition. Japanese researchers published a study in German magazine ‘Marine Biology’ about the ocean squid that can fly more than 30 meters through the air at a speed of 11.2 meters per second.
That’s .89 meters per second faster than the two-time 100m champion adjudged to be the “fastest man in the world”. Jun Yamamoto, lead researcher from Hokkaido University says that the squid can fly that fast especially if it wants to escape predators. The cephalopod bursts out of the ocean by shooting a jet of water at high pressure and then opens its fins to glide.
Witnesses have already seen the flying squid and now this study will help people understand them more. Back in July 2011, Yamamoto and his team were tracking a shoal of 100 oceanic squid in the northwest Pacific 600 kilometers east of Tokyo when they came across the 20 centimeter long oceanic squids that suddenly launched themselves in the air.
The squid remains in the air for three seconds and travels upwards for about 30 meters. They believe it is a defense mechanism to avoid being eaten. But being out of the water leaves them vulnerable to other creatures that will look at them as food, like sea birds. Still, this finding shows that not all squids can be considered just creatures that live in water.
“Once they finish shooting out the water, they glide by spreading out their fins and arms. As they land back in the water, the fins are all folded back into place to minimize the impact,” they said in the report.
Yamamoto and his colleagues reveal that the squids swim backward with its fins in water and use the same fins as wings while flying and glides with them over the water body.
The study comes as the first scientific confirmation of the perception that the squids, Todarodes pacificus, are seen flying above the ocean. The Japanese researchers also claim the description of the flight mechanism to be the first one for Neon Flying Squids.
Yamamoto was quoted saying, There were always witnesses and rumors that said squid were seen flying, but no one had clarified how they actually do it. We have proved that it really is true.