How Do Cephalopods Move?

Cephalopods move using jet propulsion. They control their direction of movement by adjusting the direction of the funnel of water they shoot out. Cephalopods also use their arms to walk across the ocean floor, while their fins enable them to swim through the water. A few species of cephalopods can also use their funnel to shoot water with enough pressure to blast themselves out of the water.

Cephalopods create jet propulsion by sealing off all of their orifices except their funnel, which traps water inside the mantle. This allows internal pressure in their mantle to build. The muscles in the mantle walls begin to contract, forcing the water out of the funnel. The produced force propels the cephalopod forward or backward, depending on the direction in which the funnel turns. Jet propulsion allows squid to swim over 25 miles per hour, making them the fastest marine invertebrates in the ocean. The speed that squid produce in this manner helps them to travel just as fast as coyotes, snowshoe hares and leopard seals.

When cephalopods walk across the ocean floor, they use their suckers to help pull themselves along. When swimming, their fins aid in propulsion and balance. This is useful when using jet propulsion and in flight. Although squid do not have feathers or wings, shooting water from their funnel allows them to propel themselves through the air for distances of up to 200 feet along the surface of the water.