Longfin Squid: A Meditation in Green

Why is the water in this beautiful image so green? In short, New England is blessed with rich, productive oceans.

The green in the water is from the chlorophyll found inside tiny phytoplankton that float around and harvest sunlight, turning it into the food that anchors our web of life. All other life in the sea depends on these little energy powerhouses.

The fertile, green waters of the North Atlantic are home to many wonders. The longfin squid featured in this photo are some of my favorites. The squid spend their short lives (less than a year) in coastal waters from Canada to Venezuela. Racecar sleek and gorgeous, the squid use chromatophores in their skin to flash and strobe different colors to suit their mood. Longfin squid school together to reproduce, which they can do at any time of year. Males compete fiercely to breed, and can flash red to warn other males away when they are mating.

Look carefully at the picture, and you can see the squid’s surreal, giant eyes. Squid’s eyes are very similar to our own. Excellent vision, combined with lightning speed (squid are the fastest invertebrate swimmers), make them fantastic hunters. Longfins jet through the water, chasing herring, menhaden, mackerel, and many other fish. They are aggressive predators, and will eat fish almost as big as they are (around a foot long), and will even eat each other. Longfin squid are, in turn, important food for larger fish and marine mammals. These squid are also commercially fished, and odds are good that if you enjoy calamari, you have eaten them.

Look at this sublimely colored image one more time, and think about all the different reasons that green matters to you. From lush, emerald rainforests, to sweeping tallgrass prairies, to the murky green depths of our productive coastal sea, green is the color that feeds us, body and soul.