Original Ink

Pursued by a predator, the squid ejects a smoke screen of dark ink from its internal ink sac to aid its escape.  Indeed, these marvelous creatures are the originators and first users of sumi (ink).  In Japanese, the calligraphy reads “Sumi ichiban,” meaning first, best, or original ink.

Squid also use an amazingly maneuverable system of jet propulsion.  Water drawn through the open collar fills the large, muscular mantle cavity.  The open collar then closes tightly about the neck and the muscular mantle contracts, forcibly ejecting a jet of water from the small, tubular siphon, here seen below the eye.  With the siphon pointed in the direction of head and arms, the squid is jet-propelled backwards like a swift underwater dart.  The two fins are used as rudders and elevators for precise steering.  A squid can also point the siphon in other directions; the direction of movement will be opposite the direction in which the siphon is pointed.  In addition to jet propulsion, the squid can also move slowly by gracefully undulating the edges of the fins.

Squid are highly prized as seafood, especially in the Mediterranean region and in Asia.  When I taught a college zoology course, one of the laboratory sections met in the evening and during the week we learned about squids and their kin, I treated that section to a stir-fry of squid and vegetables over rice.  Squid ink is also highly prized in the world of high cuisine and give the dark color to ikasumi (squid ink) pasta.  Apparently, squid ink pan pizza is a contemporary culinary creation in Japan.

Size:  15 x 10 inches  (2002)

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