Hummingbird Bobtail Squid

Hummingbird bobtail squid (Euprymna berryi). Credit: Tim Briggs
Hummingbird bobtail squid (Euprymna berryi). Credit: Tim Briggs

The hummingbird bobtail squid (Euprymna berryi) is a small species of squid found in Indo-Pacific waters from Indonesia to Japan and China. Bobtail squid bury themselves under the sand during the day and emerge at night to feed and mate.

To avoid being eaten, this species has developed a symbiotic relationship with Vibrio fischeri, a species of bioluminescent (glowing) bacteria. This bioluminescence provides camouflage so Euprymna are not silhouetted by the moon at night when the animals are most active. Colonization of V. fischeri in the light organ occurs one hour after hatching and drives the development of the light organ tissue.

Scientific Name: Euprymna berryi

Type: Cephalopod
Habitat: Sandy seagrass
Range: Indo-Pacific region
Life Span in the Wild: 6 months
Size: Mantle length up to 2 inches
Weight: 15 – 18 grams
Diet: Small benthic crustaceans
Status: Data Deficient

Remote video URL
Cephalopod behavior. Credit: Marine Biological Laboratory / BioQuest Studios / Nguyen Khoi Nguyen
The Hummingbird Bobtail Squid and the MBL

Scientists at the MBL and around the world study cephalopods to learn about everything from camouflage and limb dexterity to regeneration and neurobiology. The hummingbird bobtail squid has an interesting biology and is easy to raise in a lab environment. That, coupled with its small size, short time to maturity, and ability to produce a large number of offspring, makes it an ideal model for research.

E. berryi are bred successfully in the Marine Biological Laboratory’s Cephalopod Mariculture Facility and the species has become a model system for studying development, neurobiology, and RNA editing. Scientists at the MBL are developing new tools in this species—including genome editing with CRISPR-Cas9.

Learn more about the New Research Organisms Strategic Initiative Learn more about Cephalopods at the MBL