Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt can brag about being the fastest man alive. However, he certainly cannot be as proud knowing that a species of oceanic squid can move through the air at faster speeds than him.
The Neon Flying Squid propels itself out of the ocean by shooting off water at high pressure, then opens its fins to glide at up to 11 metres per second and manages to fly for a distance of approximately 30 metres.
Olympic Gold medallist Usain Bolt averaged just 10.31 metres a second when he won at the London Games last year.
The reason the Neon Flying Squid uses its flying advantage is to avoid predators, according to Jun Yamamoto of Hokkaido University. He and his team of researchers published their study about Neon Flying Squids in the German science magazine Marine Biology this week.
“There were witnesses who said squid were seen flying. However, no-one had clarified how they actually do it. We have proved that it is true,” Yamamoto stated.
He and his team were tracking a shoal of around 100 squids in the northwest Pacific, around 600 kilometres east of Tokyo, in July 2011.
When the researchers’ boat approached, the 20-centimetre creatures launched themselves into the air with a powerful jet of water that shot out from their stems. “The fins and the web between the arms create aerodynamic lift and keep the squid stable on its flight arc,” Yamamoto added.
The squids remain in the air for about three seconds and therefore travel for 30 metres, in what Yamamoto described as a unique defence strategy to escape being eaten.