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These beautiful translucent squid congregate off the coast of California to breed. Aggregating in their thousands, males show their receptivity with red-flushed arms. After breeding, both adults die leaving bunches of white, candle-like eggs on the seabed.
Opalescent squid live for 1-2 years.
Males average 130g (4.5oz) and females 90g (3.1oz). The average total length is about 30cm (11in).
They are common along the coast of California where they breed, but are found througout the eastern Pacific.
This species occurs primarily in deep water that has temperatures from 10-16 degrees centigrade. When spawning they come into coastal waters.
The opalescent squid is both an important predator and prey for other species. It consumes small fish and planktonic crustaceans, and falls prey to marine mammals such as Risso's dolphins and sea lions, and predatory fish such as tuna.
Usually living offshore, opalescent squid enter shallower waters en masse to breed. Males signal their interest with red-flushed arms and place sperm into the female's mantle using their specially-adapted arm. Once they have mated, both parents die.
Large egg clusters are deposited on the bottom, usually in shallow water, but sometimes to depths of 180m (590ft). Larvae hatch after about 3-5 weeks, depending on the water temperature.
The 'market squid', as it's commonly known, is an important commercial species and is the largest fishery in California. It is not considered to be endangered.