Off California trawling data show most vampires between depths of 600-1100 m with peaks at 700-800 m and 900-1000 m, and with small individuals of less than 20 mm being most abundant at the deeper peak (Roper and Young, 1975). ROV observations in Monterey Bay, California suggest that the vampire is restricted to the oxygen minimum layer in this bay at an average depth of 690 m and oxygen levels of 0.22 ml/l Hunt, 1996.
Off Hawaii, 10 of 11 captures came from depths of 800-1200 m but little towing was done in deeper water. Two captures were from opening-closing nets at depths of about 800-950 m.
In the Atlantic at 18° N, 25° W, the vampire shows a peak distribution between 700 and 1200 m but without a clear size/depth pattern (Clarke and Lu, 1975).
All captures were made with opening/closing trawls. Bars represent a capture and the bar length indicates the depth range of the trawl while open. Yellow bars indicate a daytime capture and blue bars a nighttime capture. Fishing effort between 1000-1250 m was about twice that between 1250 and 1500 m, and effort between 1000-1500 m was about 5 times that between 1500 and 2000 m and about the same as that between 500 and 1000 m.
Numerous records exists for captures in excess of 1200 m (e. g., see Roper and Young, 1975) from open nets. Unfortunately, due to the rather high probability of contamination from shallower depths, these records are of questionable value.
The vampire squid is broadly distributed throughout the depths of the world's tropical and temperate oceans. Some geographical variation has been noted. Young (1972) found that the beaks of vampire squid from the Pacific Ocean off California were distinctly smaller than those from vampires of the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean. He also noted differences in sucker size and gill size in vampires from these areas. Vampires from off Monterey, California have a predominance of reddish rather than black chromatophores.