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Natural Chromogenic Behaviors of Squid in Oceanic Waters, Stanford Univesity (6/1/2014 - 5/31/2017)

1. Record natural behaviors in free-swimming Humboldt squid (Dosidicus gigas) in the water column under natural lighting conditions using low-light video packages to characterize dynamic chromogenic displays that are related to intra-specific signaling and crypsis.

2. Develop improved low-light, free-floating video packages to image behavior of marine organisms under natural lighting conditions at midwater depths, including chromogenic behaviors of squid, and to make these packages available to other researchers.

3. Compare chromogenic behaviors and underlying structural and functional features of the chromatophore system in squid species that inhabit distinct environments with different visual features -- open ocean for Dosidicus gigas (family Ommastrephidae) versus coastal shallows for Doryteuthis opalescens, the California market squid (family Loliginidae).


Hopkins Marirne Station and Santa Rosalia, Baja California Sur, Mexico


  • Eric Berkenpas, Lead Engineer, National Geographic Remote Imaging
  • Mike Shepard, Engineer, National Geographic Remote Imaging

Principal Investigator:

William Gilly

Current Research Interests: 
My group was the first (and only) to deploy pop-up satellite tags and video packages (National Geographic Crittercam) on large Humboldt squid to record their second-to-second movements and color-changing behaviors. This work showed that this active predator spends a great deal of its time at depths of 300 m or more where the oxygen concentration is extremely low – less than 10% of that at the surface. This ‘oxygen minim zone’ (OMZ) is found throughout the southern half of the Gulf of California and much of the eastern Pacific Ocean, including Monterey Bay. The OMZ has been moving closer to...
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