Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Giant Squid Invasion in the Waters of California

Photo credit: Dana Rene Bowler (Ventura County Star) Courtesy of Squid.us.

Tales of giant squid slithering up from the depths, wrapping their tentacles around sailors and pulling them overboard to their deaths were the stuff ancient mariners’ nightmares were made of.

A modern-day invasion of jumbo flying squid is plaguing the shallow waters off San Diego, CA., USA. Scuba divers and beachgoers alike are unsure about going back in the water after seeing these denizens of the deep washed up on the beaches.

Humboldt squid are carnivorous and can weigh up to 45 kg (100 lb). They have huge beaks and can be very aggressive and/or inquisitive.

"The ones that we are getting right now have a big beak on them, like a large parrot beak," San Diego's Union-Tribune quoted John Hyde of the National Marine Fisheries Service as saying. "They could take a chunk of flesh off you."

Humboldt squid, which can weigh up to 45kg (100lb) have entered shallow waters off San Diego, California. Photograph: Visuals Unlimited/Corbis.

Close encounters of the cephalopod kind have many divers and swimmers running for the beaches. Many were torn between concerns for their personal safety and the opportunity to swim with the squids – an once-in-a-lifetime experience. Adding to the personal safety concerns are the reports by some divers that the squids’ tentacles were enveloping their masks and yanking at their cameras and gear. There is also the danger that the squid could foul their airways.

Adding to the fear is the fact that the Humboldt squid, named after the current in the eastern Pacific, have been known to attack humans. They have been nicknamed "red devils" for their rust-red colouring and mean streak. Divers wanting to observe the creatures often bait the water; then, use a metal viewing cage or wear chainmail to avoid being lashed by the creature's tentacles. Think shark cage!

The squid, which is most commonly found in deep water from California to the bottom of South America, hunts in schools of up to 1,200 individuals, can swim up to 15 mph and can skim over the water to escape predators.

An 4.0 earthquake took place in the Pacific Ocean 19 miles out to sea just before the Humboldt squid showed up. This is being looked at to determine if it may have dazed the squid to the point that they ended up beached a La Jolla beach.

Following are two short videos showing the humboldt squid problem and questioning whether the earthquake was responsible.

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcbayarea.com/video.



Beautiful photography and great music!

1 comment:

Pooper said...

I hope the cause is the earthquake. I worry that pollution and overfishing might have driven these beautiful creatures to the shore in search of food or something. This happened in Florida too. Protecting Our oceans from ourselves is key to our survival on this planet.