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Our friend the Giant Squid inspired a SciShow Kids viewer to write us and ask, “What is squid ink, and can you write with it?” Jessi has the answers!

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SOURCES:
http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/apr/05/ask-grown-up-how-does-squid-make-ink
http://www.squid-world.com/
http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2010/03/22/can_i_write_with_squid_ink/

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Hi guys! If you've joined us here at the fort before you probably know our old friend Giant Squidstravaganza.  It's great having friends that are different than you, because you can always learn so much from each other. 

Giant squid lives underwater, and he doesn't know very much about life on land and even though I have a lot of animal friends I don't know a whole lot about what a squid's life is like. 

Plus, I also have great friends like you who ask really interesting questions, and one of you saw a giant squid here with us recently and then wrote in to ask 
   "What is squid ink...and can you write with it?"
Awesome question! 

Giant squid will be the first to tell you the ocean can be a pretty dangerous place for a squid; fish, birds, and even humans use them as  a food source. But squids have an escape plan! They can squirt water from their bodies really quickly. When they do this it's called "jetting" and it pushes the squid quickly away from its predators. 

When they jet, squids can also make a cloud of dark ink that blocks the squid from view when it finds a place to hide-- it's like a squid smoke screen. And even cooler, scientists think squid ink might act as a message to other squids that there's danger around. 

Now you probably use ink almost every day either at home or at school. Ink that's in a pen is a mixture of chemicals mostly some kind or pigment or color mixed into a liquid so it can come out of the pen. And squid ink is a similar kind of mixture. The pigment that gives squid ink its color is called melanin, your own body makes melanin too, it's what gives our eyes, hair, and skin their color. 

The second big part of squid ink is mucus. Yeah, mucus. Sort of like mucus that comes out of your nose when you have a cold. Sounds gross, but squid ink is what keeps predators away, so hey, whatever it takes. 

Squids make their ink in special parts of their bodies called ink glands. A gland is a specialized body part that makes and releases something. You have glands too, but instead of making ink they make sweat or saliva. The squids ink glands produce a whole lot of ink, until they can't hold anymore, then it goes into a part of the squid's body called the ink sac, where the squid holds onto in in the case of an emergency.

Then, when the squid is startled by a predator, the body squeezes the ink sac and the ink mixes with the water that the squid uses to jet away. 

But can you write with squid ink?

The answer is yes! Before people could buy pens at the store, they often used ink from squids and other natural sources to write and draw. You might have seen old picture or letters that were drawn in brown ink, if you're up on your crayon colors, you might recognize this color as sepia brown. 

The name "sepia" actually comes from the name of a group of cuttlefish which are little relatives of the squid that make golden brown ink. 
Meanwhile, the octopus, a relative of the squid makes blue ink. 

So I'm glad I have lots of friends, including you, who are all good at different things. And now I can say I have a friend who can make ink. 
Thanks for asking, and if you have a question for any of us here at the fort, let us know by leaving a comment or emailing us at kids@thescishow.com. 

Thanks guys.

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