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Can Squid Smell?

Squids are mostly known for their ejection of ink when threatened or for some, as a tasty treat at a local fish market. Without any obvious sone on these critters, can squid smell things?

Squid has an acute sense of smell that’s used as a means to catch prey. Most varieties of squid live in the oceanic depths, where their sight doesn’t serve well to catch dinner. Smell and taste glands allow them to catch and taste it to ensure it’s prey.

How Does Squid Smell?

All “groups” of squid are members of the cephalopod family. Cephalopods possess chemosensory systems. In short, rather than detecting something mingled in the air as land-based creatures do, they detect changes in their aquatic environment and molecules from an object.

Squids have scent glands on either of their club tentacles. These particular tentacles are often longer than the rest, and some species of squid have hook-like formations developed toward the end of the tentacles, making them able to better grab their prey.

Tentacles vs. Arms

Squids have ten appendages flailing around when they’re frolicking about in the water. However, the appendages aren’t all arms and are not all tentacles.

The two “club tentacles” are called tentacles, having fewer suction cups than their other appendages, yet having features (such as scent glands) that the rest don’t have.

These tentacles provide a base for their gustatory system (though they taste more with their beaks) and their olfactory system (which provides their sense of smell).

The rest of their appendages are considered arms, often covered with suction cups. The two tentacles are longer than the arms in most squid varieties.

Fueling the stuff of nightmares is that within every suction cup are razor-sharp teeth.

These teeth help them to latch on to a fish (or whatever else it has deemed to be dinner) and carry it toward their beak, situated on the head centered at the base of their tentacles.

Scented Bait to Catch Squid

Squid’s sense of smell hasn’t escaped fishermen. When the squid are biting, and a group of fishermen are around trying to stretch their line and take home a couple of good-sized squids, they apply a spray-on scent to gain an edge over the others.

These scented sprays can imitate the scent of a fish in flight or a simple heavy dose of a regular fish scent that is common to their recognized prey.

This shows that the thing that often works for them can also work just as quickly against them.

Frequently Asked Questions About Squid

There is no shortage of questions about these strange alien-looking creatures.

Here are a few questions with answers that will help you understand this creature better.

What Kind of Fish is Squid?

The squid is a cousin to the octopus but is not the same animal. They are both members of the Cephalopoda group. To piggyback that classification, squid is also of the invertebrate mollusk class of fish.

Does Squid Come Out During the Day?

Squids (wherever possible) tend to retreat to deeper waters or somewhere around deep underwater structures during daylight hours. They can still be found and caught if you’re fishing for them, as they feed whenever an opportunity presents itself.


After dark, the squid becomes more active in terms of going toward the oceanic surface.

That notwithstanding, they often are attracted to light shining in the water but stay around the gloomy edges. The brighter the spotlight, the better the squid will like it.

If you look long enough, you may spy a squid dashing out into the lit part of the water to grab a snack before it retreats into the gloom.

What Colors are Squid Attracted To?

Squids have a great vision that complements their sense of smell and can see 360 degrees around them. However, researchers have concluded that they are color blind.

Any bright or warm white-colored object will catch its attention if you’re looking to visually attract a squid.

What Kind of Food does Squid Eat?

Squids are extremely effective predators. They are equipped to find even the most camouflaged species of fish through their sense of smell and snatch them from hiding places.

Fish smaller than themselves are thought to be their main course, though they also go after crustaceans regularly.

Not surprisingly, cannibalism is not out of the question, as some smaller squid species often wind up in the crosshairs of the larger ones.

Squids often wind up eating about 30% of their body weight in food each day.

What is the Largest Squid?

Two species of squid have been known to drop the jaws of fishermen from time to time. They are the Giant and the Colossal Squid species.

The Colossal Squid is the largest in girth and weight, averaging around ½ of a ton compared to the Giant Squid, which weighs in at about half of that.

However, the Giant Squid has a longer body, up to 45 feet long (that we know of), while the Colossal Squid is generally slightly shorter.

These are theorized to be the basis of mythology’s transformation into the Cracken.

What else could it have been if it were not either of these creatures? Not a pleasant thought.

Final Thoughts

Squids are strange and interesting creatures. They can be a species that is no larger than a quarter in length or among the largest animals in the depths of the sea.

They are effective predators that use every sense they have to the max to get their daily intake of food in places tough to navigate. Their sense of smell is a crucial piece of their hunting arsenal.

Though they detect scent in a manner that is foreign to us, they are extremely efficient while using it.

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