Fascinating Facts – Part 1

The Hawaiian bobtail squid (Euprymna scolopes) swims in tropical waters, blissfully unaware that it is marvellously designed by God. It has a neat symbiotic’ partnership with a glowing bacterium, Vibrio fischeri, which lives inside it. This gives the squid a built-in torch to help it camouflage, by a crafty technique known as counterillumination’.

In the first few days of its life, the squid sucks up hundreds of different types of microbes from the sea water and isolates the one type of bacterium to store in its specially designed ‘light organ’ that will make it glow. The different microbes journey to the light organ through narrow tubes. To appreciate the challenge of this journey, we need to imagine an assault course mixed with a deadly automatic car wash. These tubes are lined with microscopic cilia bristles that sweep in the opposite direction to the way that our microbe contestants are moving. With toxic chemicals and acid, only the Vibrio bacteria have what it takes to make it to the end and colonize the light organ. The squid also ‘cheers on’ the Vibrio bacteria with chemicals that attract them down the tube. When the light organ is foil, they tell the squid to close the tubes and finish the making of the light organ with lenses. The squid will be able to alter its light to match the glow of the moon.

Every day. the squid squirts out most of the bacteria and the rest reproduce, refilling the light organ for the next glow session that night. It is even more remarkable to know that the bacteria can t make light unless they are inside the squid; they don’t glow in the sea water by themselves!

These two organisms were made for each other and co-exist because of complex engineering. Each feature of the system shows purpose, and it is unthinkable that it could have developed from scratch through a collection of unguided errors that would be called ‘evolution’. This should amaze us and cause us to glorify our Lord as Creator and Sustainer of life.


S. V. NYHOLM. and M. J. Mcfall-Ngai, A lasting symbiosis: how the Hawaiian bobtail squid finds and keeps its bioluminescent bacterial partner, Nat.Rev. Microbiol. 19, pp. 666-679. 2021.

Karen L. Visick, Eric V. Stabb. and Edward R. Ruby, A lasting symbiosis: how Vibrio fischeri finds a squid partner and persists within its natural host, Nat. Rev. Microbiol, 2021.