Freshwater Squid . . .
    By Danna Staaf | March 26th 2011 10:37 PM | 3 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Danna

    Cephalopods have been rocking my world since I was in grade school. I pursued them through a BA in marine biology at the University of California...

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    . . . don't exist.

    But because it's finger squid season in Texas, I've been reading up on the closest approximation to a freshwater squid: the Atlantic brief squid, Lolliguncula brevis. It's a pretty great name for a pretty great squid. The latin name just rolls off the tongue: lolly-gunk-you-lah. And "brief"? Like these? Oh wait, those are squid briefs, not brief squids . . .

    I think the brief squid was named for its diminutive size.

     Ian Bartol
    Who knew brevity could be measured in centimeters?

    But seriously folks, the brief squid may be the most freshwater-tolerant of cephalopods. It lives all along the east coast of the Americas, from New Jersey through the Gulf of Mexico and all the way to Rio de Janeiro. It is particularly fond of bays and estuaries, where salinity is reduced due to freshwater input from rivers.

    Our brief friends appear to prefer water of 17 ppt or higher (seawater is usually in the low 30's, and true freshwater is zero), but studies in the early 80's suggested that they could survive salinity of 8.5 ppt. Yikes!

    However, L. brevis is still far from being a truly freshwater squid. So far, that exists only in fiction.


    I was  a bit puzzled here.  Since Lolliguncula is obviously a Latin diminutive (just as Dracunculus, the Dragon Arum, is a diminutive of draco) where does the extra ‘l’ come from?

    Chasing back to my Latin dictionary, I find it gives ‘cuttle-fish’ for lolligo and for loligo says ‘see lolligo’.

    I use local Wikipedias for finding the names in various languages, and while calamari is Modern Greek for squid, soupia is the name for cuttlefish.  These, though photographed in Altanta, Georgia, I found on the Greek Wikipedia.

    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Danna Staaf
    Gorgeous photo! And very astute linguistic sleuthing. I am actually not sure when the extra L slipped in there. I suspect some of these things are simply historical accidents, where someone wrote it like that once and it got canonized.

    Reminds me of a fabulous argument I witnessed on a boat in Mexico, between my PhD advisor and a Spanish colleague, over whether Cranchiidae had two i's or one. They bet a six-pack and the Spanish guy won it.
    Found about 15you of these in a creek off the Ohio river