Remember the octopus that stole a diver's camera and filmed itself swimming away? Ha ha ha, very nice--but it's only a few minutes of footage of only one octopus. Can you top that, Humboldt squid? Why yes, I think you can!

Well okay, scientists helped out a little bit. My PhD advisor Gilly figured out how to attach National Geographic's Crittercam (which has been stuck on whales and turtles, but never before, I believe, on an invertebrate) to a Humboldt squid. It was a tricky endeavor to affix a camera to a smooth, slippery, bendy surface. Squids won't wear collars, and they have no hard shell that will take epoxy.

Gilly's brilliant solution? Buy a little girl's bathing suit, chop off the top and bottom, and you've got a snug-fitting tube that just fits around a squid mantle. (Sure, the Nat Geo article calls it a "synthetic sleeve" but that's just a matter of semantics.)

After the scientists maneuvered a squid into this thing and sent it out to film, they got back hours of footage of dozens of squid swimming around and interacting with each other in as close to natural circumstances as anyone has ever seen. No big submersible with bright lights, no divers blowing bubbles and chumming. Just one squid with a funny-looking bump on its back.

The footage is amazing, and of course everyone wanted more. After the lastest attempt at another Crittercam deployment, however, Gilly had to report:
Everything went fine (except for the fact that the squid bit me), but the camera pack never reported back to us by radio like it should have after detaching and floating to the surface. Despite two days of visual searching we failed to find it. We don't know if there was a technical glitch or whether the squid (and it was a lively one!) swam out of radio
range. . . . Science, like everything else, can have really bad days. This is an important lesson for young researchers like Lauren, the student who was doing the camera project. It's the real world.
True dat. Fortunately Lauren is both resilient and resourceful, and has come up with some very cool science from analyzing the earlier Crittercam video. Top secret, though. I can't tell you about it.

If you want to see for yourself whether Humboldt squid are good videographers, check out National Geographic's episode all about the first Crittercam deployment. And in this case "check out" actually means "hope that they show it again soon, because when it first aired you were busy having a mad party to celebrate the fact that you successfully defended your thesis and are actually done with grad school after all these years, can it be true?!"

At least, that's what it means for me.

While we're waiting, we can snicker and/or exchange long-suffering looks over the fact that the photo National Geographic chose to represent their Cannibal Squid episode is . . . not a squid.

Nope, not even a little bit. That, my friends, is Octopus dofleini.

So maybe octopuses get the last laugh after all.