June 03, 2013

Knit Octopus Squid (Octopoteuthis deletron)

So I mentioned on my American flag post that I'm in the process of working on a new series of knit and crocheted items that are distinctly American.  And finally I am posting about my very first animal!

This is the octopus squid.  And no, I'm not confusing those terms- that's it's real name.  It's also called the oceanic squid, or more technically Octopoteuthis deletron. Now ringing a bell?  Well this little marvel has even graced the Huffington Post and New York Times, so it's kind of a big deal.

These little charmers live between 400 and 800 meters down in the Pacific Ocean and has been found off the coast of the U.S. from California to Alaska.  Because of how rarely one octopus squid floats past another octopus squid they have the funny reproductive tactic of attaching sperm packets to any octopus squid they come across- male or female.

courtesy of MBARI

Octopus squids can grow up to 24 cm, or about 9 inches long.  They have 8 legs- each with a strong hook and photophores at the end.  Photophores are organs that emit light, usually in deep sea animals.  Their photophores have a shutter that opens and closes when muscles contract, making it give off a flashing light (you can watch it here). If you're interested in learning more about bioluminescence, the Field Museum in Chicago has an exhibit called Creatures of Light going on now through January 2014.  It's geared towards younger people, but fascinating for all ages, in my humble opinion. Who doesn't love fireflies?!

courtesy of MBARI

Getting back to the subject at hand, these squids are also notable for their defensive behavior called "attack autonomy".  When attacked, the sink one of those hooks I mentioned above into their attacker and shoot off in a puff of ink, leaving their leg behind.  The leg even continues to glow and twitch after it detaches, presumably to keep the attacker's attention while the squid zooms away safely.  Although you might have heard of a similar tactic employed in lizard tails, octopus squids are pretty special for being the ONLY squid that does this!  Take a look:

credit to Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI)

This squid leaves two legs behind on the brush- that large one on the front of the bristle, and the small one you see swimming around at the end.  The yellow-ish cloud that comes up after ti's escape is it's ink.

So now that you're totally intrigued in the fascinating O. deletron, here's the little one I created:

the full portrait

 the head shot

 from behind

 and the profile

 from below- those white stitches kind of look like little suction cups?

 the skinny look

for size comparison

So that's it!  I really meant to come up with a witty pun-tastic name for him, but I'm still working on it.  Basically I thought of Octopussy (James Bond.... duh) and then giggled a lot at Joe because I thought I was hilarious and then failed to come up with something practical.  Any ideas would be appreciated!  

For anyone interested in making one, I worked up from the arm end- making all 8 and then knitting together the underside, and then going up to the body, stuffing as I went.  To make those head pieces, I increased and decreased in parallel, periodically swapping stitches from the front and back to make it lie flat. I'm a terrible explainer.

For those interested in buying one, he's totally for sale.  I haven't set the price yet, I have to talk with my  "agent" (a.k.a. Joe).  The plan is to make up my collection and then set up shop on Etsy and possibly some local stores.  But if you're interested, feel free to shoot me an email (charmhour@gmail.com).

If you have any requests for other scientifically accurate stuffed animals I would love to hear them too!
Just comment below, shoot me an email, or post something on our facebook page
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