Sarah McAnulty

Meet Sarah McAnulty!

By Anne Cissel

Sarah McAnulty is a biologist who studies squid, but she loves all ocean creatures—including the crab she’s holding here. She runs a program called “Skype a Scientist,” which lets kids video-chat with real scientists. Let’s dive in and learn more about her!

Q: What got you excited about ocean life?

When I was about 8 years old, I watched a nature show about cuttlefish, which are cousins of squid. Cuttlefish are very odd-looking animals, with football-shaped bodies and W-shaped pupils in their eyes. In this show, the cuttlefish were doing a behavior called “passing cloud.” That means that they were making dark bands of color travel across their bodies in waves. They were so otherworldly looking! I fell in love with squid and cuttlefish then and there. (Squid, cuttlefish, and octopuses all belong to the same group of animals. They’re called cephalopods [SEF-uh-luh-podz].)

Q: How do scientists study squid?

Some scientists snorkel or scuba dive to study shallow-water squid. Some send robots to take videos and photos to study deep-sea squid. In my work, I wanted to know how squid and bacteria interacted with each other. So, we collected some squid from the ocean and brought them back to the lab where they lived in tanks. That way, we could study them closely.

Q: What is one amazing squid fact (or two or three facts)?

How about four facts? 1) Squid have blue blood! 2) Squid have beaks! 3) Squid have three hearts! 4) Squid and other cephalopods have been on Earth for more than 500 million years—that’s longer than trees have been here!

Q: What are some fun things about being a squid biologist?

The two best things about being a squid biologist for me are going out into the ocean to find squid and sharing new knowledge. I love spreading squid knowledge with others. It’s almost as good as getting into a wetsuit and swimming with the squid!

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