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Some Deep-Sea Squid Moms Hold Their Eggs in Their Arms

Making babies is a complicated yet essential endeavor for every animal species on Earth. And many animals—especially those in extreme environments like deserts, glaciers, or the deep sea—have gotten pretty creative about the way they pass on their genes. The female squid shown in the video above from the Monterey Bay Area Research Institute (MBARI) laid a bubble wrap-like sheet of eggs and is carrying it with her.

Spotting this behavior was a big deal for MBARI biologists. Reproduction in cephalopods (a family that includes octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish) varies quite a bit from species to species. Many octopus mothers lay their eggs in a den or cave and stay there to guard them, blowing fresh water over the young to keep them clean and safe. During this time, the female octopus will not eat, and protecting her offspring like this may be last thing she does.

Squid are much less careful with their babies—or so scientists believed. Shallow-water species typically glue their eggs to something sturdy on the sea floor, then take off. Farther out to sea, with no obvious receptacle for offspring, open-water squid parents just squirt their young directly into the water column, hoping that the sheer quantity of babies ensures that a few make it past the jaws of predators.

Very little is known about the reproduction of deep-sea squid, mostly because very little is known about the deep sea, period. Until the last few decades, it’s been impossible for people to get down there to check it out. Remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) have made exploration possible, and much of what we’ve found has been pretty amazing.

Just look at the Bathyteuthis berryi in the above video. After mating, this wallet-sized squid lays a sheet of babies, with each squid kid safe in its own little capsule. She is literally putting all of her eggs in one blanket and carrying it with her.

B. berryi is only the second known deep-sea species to behave this way, but we still have a lot more to learn.

Header image from YouTube // MBARI

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Animals
Watch a School of Humpback Whales 'Fish' Using Nets Made of Bubbles 

Just like humans, humpback whales catch many fish at once by using nets—but instead of being woven from fibers, their nets are made of bubbles.

Unique to humpbacks, the behavior known as bubble-net feeding was recently captured in a dramatic drone video that was created by GoPro and spotted by Smithsonian. The footage features a school of whales swimming off Maskelyne Island in British Columbia, Canada, in pursuit of food. The whales dive down, and a large circle of bubbles forms on the water's surface. Then, the marine mammals burst into the air, like circus animals jumping through a ring, and appear to swallow their meal.

The video offers a phenomenal aerial view of the feeding whales, but it only captures part of the underwater ritual. It begins with the group's leader, who locates schools of fish and krill and homes in on them. Then, it spirals to the water's surface while expelling air from its blowhole. This action creates the bubble ring, which works like a net to contain the prey.

Another whale emits a loud "trumpeting feeding call," which may stun and frighten the fish into forming tighter schools. Then, the rest of the whales herd the fish upwards and burst forth from the water, their mouths open wide to receive the fruits of their labor.

Watch the intricate—and beautiful—feeding process below:

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Big Questions
Why Do Dogs Love to Dig?
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Dog owners with green thumbs beware: It's likely just a matter of time before Fido turns your azalea bed into a graveyard of forgotten chew toys. When dogs aren't digging up your prized garden, they can be found digging elsewhere in your yard, at the beach, and even between your couch cushions at home. But what exactly is behind your dog's drive to turn every soft surface he or she sees into an excavation site?

According to Dr. Emma Grigg, an animal behaviorist and co-author of The Science Behind a Happy Dog, this behavior is completely normal. "When people say 'why do dogs dig,' the first thing that always comes to mind is 'well, because they're dogs,'" she tells Mental Floss. The instinct first appeared in dogs' wolf ancestors, then it was amplified in certain breeds through artificial selection. That's why dogs that were bred to hunt rodents, like beagles and terriers, are especially compelled to dig in places where such animals might make their homes.

But this tendency isn't limited to just a few specific breeds. No matter their original roles, dogs of all breeds have been known to kick up some dirt on occasion. Beyond predatory urges, Dr. Grigg says there are two main reasons a dog may want to dig. The first is to cool off on a hot day. When stuck on an open lawn with little to no shade, unearthing a fresh layer of dirt untouched by the sun is a quick way to beat the heat.

The second reason is to stash away goodies. Imagine your dog gets bored with chewing his favorite bone but knows he wants to come back for it later. Instead of leaving it out in the open where anyone can snatch it up, he decides to bury it in a secret place where only he'll be able to find it. Whether or not he'll actually go back for it is a different story. "There's a disconnect with modern dogs: They know the burying part but they don't always know to dig it up," Dr. Grigg says.

Because digging is part of a dog's DNA, punishing your pet for doing so isn't super effective. But that doesn't mean you should stand idly by as your yard gets turned inside-out. When faced with this behavior in your own dog, one option is to redirect it. This can mean allowing him to dig in a designated corner of the yard while keeping other parts off-limits, or setting up a raised flowerbed or sandbox especially to satisfy that urge. "You can get him interested in the area by burying a couple bones or some interesting things in there for him to dig," Dr. Grigg says. "I like the idea of buried treasure."

If your dog's motive for digging is more destructive than practical, he may have an energy problem. Dogs require a certain amount of stimulation each day, and when their humans don't provide it for them they find their own ways to occupy themselves. Sometimes it's by chewing up shoes, toppling trash cans, or digging ditches the perfect size for twisting ankles. Fortunately, this is nothing more walks and playtime can't improve.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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