... Not All Drifters Are Beans!
Thought we would introduce you to a unique drifter which most of you could say you've seen before but few of you will know by it's true identity or name.
Most folks we have introduced to this awesome little drifter say that they thought it was 'just a shell'. But it is not just any shell it is the buoyancy organ of Spirula Spirula.
Spirual Spirula is also known as the Ram's Horn Squid (hint: look at the above photo to figure out why).
Spirula Spirula is a deep-water squid-like cephalopod mollusk. Live specimens of this cool ocean dweller are very rarely seen due to it's preference for deep water living.
It is considered an altitudinal migrant - reaching depths of up to 3280 feet during the day and rising to between 300 and 1000 feet at night.
These buoyancy organs contain gas-filled chambers that keep the spirula in a vertical, head-down position. They are in the shape of an open planispiral (a flat spiral where in the coils do not touch each other).
The Spirula Spriula's life span is a short 18-20 months. Upon decomposing, their buoyancy organs float to the surface and drift with the currents ending up on beaches all over the world.
Also known as the Tail-light Squid, Spirula Spirula is capable of emitting a green light from a photophore (a light-emitting organ) located at the tip of its mantle. It can remain lit for several hours.
From what we've gathered, scientists have yet to figure out why
Spirula Spirula has this photophore. In other cephalopods however,
predator evasion mechanisms include photophores and bioluminescence,
which could account for the presence of this feature on Spirula Spirula.
We find it all pretty interesting. Perhaps you do too. So, the next time you see a little Ram's Horn shell laying on the beach maybe you'll think a bit more about this tiny creature from deep in the ocean to which it used to belong and the very long journey that it took to land at your sandy feet.