The sexual life of the SoCal squid.

Women writing about politics, etc.
Feb. 13 2009 6:21 PM

Motion in the Ocean

The six secrets of squid sex.

(Continued from Page 1)

3. Guard males: Trade romance for constant vigilance.
Spawning season is not the time to get wrapped up in the moment. It's not enough just to slide spermatophores under her mantle. Guard males have to fight off other males—while hanging on to their lady like a rodeo rider. To scare off the competition (and impress their mate), guard males use their color-changing abilities to turn their tentacles bright cherry red.

Want to see how the big boys do it? Click here to see this strapping squid fight off a sneaker male (0:03 and 0:25) and pass a spermatophore to his mate (0:15). But she's just not that into him, and her whole body turns angry red before kicking him out.  

Advertisement

4. Sneaker males: Go for speed over style.
Squids on the smaller side can't hang on to their own females, so they go for speed. They've got two windows of opportunity—the threesome and the egg drop. For the threesome, they dart in while the guard male and the female are in the act, slip a spermatophore under her mantle, and jet away as fast as they can. For the egg drop, they wait until the female is laying her long, oval egg capsules, and dart in to slip some spermatophores into her seminal receptacle in hopes that she'll decide to use it to fertilize some of her eggs. Though neither of these strategies is as good as being one of the muscle boys—at best, sneaker males fertilize 9 percent of the eggs—half a spawn is better than none.  

Check out some threesome action here. This sneaker male hangs on for an epic 10-second ride. Those white tubes on the bottom are the end goal of all the squid debauchery—fertilized egg capsules. 

5. Don't forget to cuddle.
Not only is it rude to fall asleep after sex, it's potentially dire. Even if a guard male has successfully hung on to his lady, he can be cuckolded by a sneaker male at the last moment. So guard males spoon their mates during the hourslong process of laying an egg capsule and pumping it full of embryos. Once she's glued the egg capsule to the sand, the guard males can roll over and swim away in search of their next paramour.

6. Go gently into that good night.
Après sex, all the squids are dead. Sure, they might have the energy for one or two more rounds, but they're not eating and perish from exhaustion after a few weeks. Most cephalopods—squid, octopus, and cuttlefish—live fast and die young after just one season of righteous action. But it's the natural way of things, and in about a month, millions of minuscule squid will hatch out the egg capsules. They'll go about their short lives, hunting and hiding and ultimately expiring during next year's Valentine's Day orgy.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

The Ludicrous Claims Women Are Pitched at “Egg Freezing Parties”

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

Behold
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 12:20 PM Don’t Expect Hong Kong’s Protests to Spread to the Mainland
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 1 2014 12:21 PM How One Entrepreneur Is Transforming Blood Testing
  Life
The Eye
Oct. 1 2014 1:04 PM An Architectural Crusade Against the Tyranny of Straight Lines
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 1:01 PM Can Activists Save Reyhaneh Jabbari?  
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 10:54 AM “I Need a Pair of Pants That Won’t Bore Me to Death” Troy Patterson talks about looking sharp, flat-top fades, and being Slate’s Gentleman Scholar.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 12:26 PM Where Do I Start With Leonard Cohen?
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM Watch a Crowd Go Wild When Steve Jobs Moves a Laptop in This 1999 Demonstration of WiFi
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 1 2014 12:01 PM Rocky Snow
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.