Tentacle porn is painful

Opposite Hakodate station is the fish market, around which you can find small restaurants with tanks of squid in the window, ready for eating. We watched one customer use a barbed line to fish out her own meal of squid from a pool. It was then taken by the stall keeper, chopped up and served raw and still wriggling, along with a dash of soy sauce.

Perhaps I was right to feel squeamish. There have been a number of published cases of eaters of raw or undercooked squid experiencing severe pain as packets of squid sperm explode in their mouths. If this sounds disgusting enough, just wait until you find out how squids reproduce.

Rather than the (hopefully) gentle penetration of the male penis into the female vagina, followed by the individual sperm swimming up towards the egg, as happens in humans, the squid process is far more brutal.

The male stabs large sperm packets (spermatangia), each containing thousands or millions of sperm, into the female’s arms like a hypodermic syringe. These long thin packets cement themselves to the arms and burrow into the flesh by using enzymes to dissolve it. They then remain there until such time as the female releases her big jelly ball of eggs, which she shapes into a ball with her arms. Sensing this, the sperm are released from their packets and burrow out and into the eggs, fertilising them.

There’s a great video of the process on Inside Nature’s Giants, recently screened on SBS in Australia.

In many species of squid the female’s arms may be implanted with the spermatangia of multiple males.

So there you go, the pain felt by those unfortunately squid eaters was the sensation of the sperm packets adhering and burrowing into their tongue and mouth cavity.

Gross!

References

  1. Park GM, Kim JY, Kim JH, Huh JK. Penetration of the oral mucosa by parasite-like sperm bags of squid: a case report in a Korean woman. J Parasitol. 2012 Feb;98(1):222-3. Epub 2011 Aug 11. PubMed PMID: 21834723.
  2. Shiraki Y, Kawai K, Kojima S, Suzuki Y, Ono K. Stinging in the oral cavity caused by ingestion of the sperm bags of a squid: a case report. Pathol Int. 2011 Dec;61(12):749-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1827.2011.02722.x. Epub 2011 Sep 1. PubMed PMID: 22126383.
  3. Nagakura K, Nakano M, Kanamaru M. Two cases of oral-stings by sperm bag of squid. Tokai J Exp Clin Med. 1992 Dec;17(5-6):195-7. PubMed PMID: 1343427.
  4. Nakashima H, Akagi M, Miyabe S, Iwasawa H. Two unusual cases of a foreign body in the oral cavity caused by eating raw squid. Acta Otolaryngol Suppl. 1996;522:104-7. PubMed PMID: 8740821.
  5. Hoving H J T, Laptikhovsky V. Getting Under the Skin: Autonomous Implantation of Squid Spermatophores. Biol. Bull. June 2007;212 no. 3:177-179
  6. O’Shea S. Architeuthis (Giant Squid) reproduction, with notes on basic anatomy and behavior. Mar 2003
  7. Myers PK. Machines of aggressively loving grace. Dec 2008
  8. Inside Nature’s Giants – Giant Squid, SBS, 2012

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