Science Fantasy Flora and Fauna Vol 9: Cephalopods

The Kraken, the colossal, devastating, monstrous squid that attacks ships and has been featured in countless pop culture portrayals… is not what we’re covering today. It’s been done, folks, so I’m going to defer to those who came before me, since they did it better anyway, and instead write three other cephalopods for use in your story, game, or world building works.

Spirula Photofalsa

The Lighthouse Squid

While the mighty Kraken is known the world over for its ability to destroy ships, the Lighthouse Squid takes a much more dastardly approach to feeding. Like its real world counterpart, Spirula Spirula, this squid has a photophore that allows it to emit light used to attract prey. However, unlike Spirula Spirula, the Lighthouse squid uses its light to attract entire ships, causing them to crash against rocks.

Perched atop a rocky outcropping on dark nights, its gills submerged underwater, Spirula Photofalsa appears to be a lighthouse welcoming ships to its safe harbor. Instead, the ships usually crash upon the rocks and spill its cargo. It then can easily grab an easy victim from the ship and take it down to the sea floor, where it devours them before heading to the surface for another.

Sepia Apama

The Giant Cuttlefish

Not quite as big as you’d think, the ‘Giant’ Cuttlefish comes in at an average 23 pounds and wouldn’t be much of a threat to your typical sailor. Cuttlefish are weird creatures, with W shaped eyes, incredible intelligence, and a series of photophores that allow them to display a wide array of colors and patterns that they use for communication. Many seafaring druids, rangers, and sea-based civilizations like Merfolk, use these creatures as messengers, or even over distance as a form of primitive semaphore.

Cuttlefish have also been used in culinary dishes for some time as well. Their flesh is said to be quite tasty, and the ink they produce is added to pasta and rice, which is said to give it a sweet flavor. The Drow especially love cuttlefish ink in their meals, since it adds a lovely black stain to it all.

One other use for these creatures is in metal casting. The cuttlebone, the aragonite based structure that helps support a cuttlefish, is used to create molds by pressing objects into them and then filling the void with molten metals.

Pickfordiateuthis Paulogramine

The Little Grass Squid

In our world, this squid goes by Pickfordiateuthis Pulchella and it lives among sea grass in coastal waters. That’s a good start. Pickfordiateuthis Paulogramine is a bit more literal with its name, the Little Grass Squid, as it uses a series of air bladders filled with lighter-than-air gas to hover over coastal grasses to feed. While they can survive for short periods of time in the air, up to around an hour or so, they must return to water to refill the odd, ballast like sacs located near its gills.

These sacs store water for breathing, but the squids have also been seen ejecting some of the water to lower their altitude. While they are a very odd species, they are considerably timid creatures and typically avoid any contact with humanoids.

 

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