You won’t see this on Cute Overload


How would you like to see that coming out of the dark at you?

Here’s a dramatic account of divers meeting a school of Humboldt squid—the beasts are as big as a man, and aggressive.

As I floated there transfixed, a large squid moved to within two feet and flashed again. Mesmerized by the strobe effect, I didn’t see that another squid was rushing in from my left. Bam! It hit me with a tentacular strike that felt like being hit with a baseball bat square in the ribs. Shocked by the power of the strike and unable to breathe because of a cramp in my chest, I turned to see what had hit me and saw four more squid headed toward me. The first came in so fast that I could barely track it with the camera, and then Bam! It struck the camera, which in turn struck me in the face. I was starting to feel like I was in a barroom brawl.

After five attacks of equal ferocity, the magnificent monsters decided I was inedible and had no further use for me. With a few blasts from their massive jet funnels, they disappeared into the depths within seconds. Dazed and excited, I realized the entire ordeal lasted less than one minute. After dangling in the water for 30 minutes looking for any signs of their return, I surfaced and climbed into the boat. I later discovered bruises on me the size of oranges, as well as several scratches in my anti-squid armor suit. The system was working, but each attack left its mark — and this was just the first dive of dozens yet to come.

Cool…an anti-squid armor suit. That could be handy, someday.


  1. says

    I’m surprised that you, of all people, would want anti-squid armor.

    Isn’t that like a dog-groomer investing in dog-repellent?

  2. Markk says

    Wow, that part where the old big squid came up, looked his partner in the eye, then just left sounded quite cool and scary. How smart do these guys get? A couple hundred pound squid staring you in the eye deciding whether to try to eat you…thats adventure!

  3. Ichthyic says

    what’s really amazing is that those guys get that big in only ONE year, from what I understand.

    that’s the equivalent of a human baby growing to the size of a blue whale in an equivalent time span.

    I don’t think the humboldts are always agressive; I have seen films of other diving experiences with them where there were no attacks at all, just some curious investigation.

    these particular divers tied the aggressive behavior to areas where heavy fishing on the squids was also taking place, but I’d say that’s inconclusive.

    In fact, there seems to be a lot of misunderstanding of these beasties.

    I do hope PZ will clear some of those up for us as he runs across more info.

  4. G. Tingey says

    Are Humboldt’s the next larget to Architeuthis?

    Or are ther other species, intermediate in size?

  5. horrobin says

    Hmmm, dueling documentries. PZ’s link is a guy making a doc for Discovery channel called Humboldt: The Man-Eating Squid.
    Here’s a link to a (older & less sensationalistic) doc from National Geographic:
    Humbolt: the fish-eating Squid

    Gilly says the squid’s ruthless reputation is unwarranted.

    “I’ve been snorkeling with them at night in just shorts and T-shirt,” he said. “The squid would swim up to the surface, reach out with their arms and gently touch my extended hand. To meet them like this and shake hands was truly amazing, like meeting an extraterrestrial being.”

  6. Ichthyic says

    yup. that was some of the film i saw too; the stuff they used for the nat geo special.

    quite a contrast, indeed.

    those were also the guys who proposed that the agressive behavior was tied to areas where humans were jigging for the squids, IIRC.

  7. Ichthyic says

    but of course “Man Eating squid” probably sells more commercial time than “Fish-eating squid”.

    personally, the only time I’ve ever seen these critters underwater was in the Gulf of California, between La Paz and Cabo San Lucas.

    They were at the end of their breeding cycle, and were basically beat up and dying.

    even then, unless they were right near death, they were essentially unapproacheable – they would disappear pretty much as soon as you saw them.

    the locals would always tell us that we were risking death, that the squids would drag us down to the bottom, but none of that ever happened to us.

    go figure. I guess we missed all the excitment of the divers in the discovery special.

  8. SEF says

    That could be handy, someday.

    You don’t really think a mere anti-squid suit will protect you from Cthulhu et al, surely?! :-D

  9. says

    I think the suckers have cartilaginous rings inside them and these bear hooks or teeth. Presumably they give a better grip on large and struggling prey.

    (That’s relying on an increasingly dodgy memory, so if it’s wrong forget I was ever here.)

  10. llewelly says

    Cool – an anti-squid armor suit. That could be handy, someday.

    I hear the Great Kraken of the Deep is offering a reward for one … so a fresh batch of geneticly engineered squid can be designed to penetrate it easily …

  11. Ichthyic says

    hmm, come to think of it, off the top of my head I can’t think of a single squid species that doesn’t have “dentition” on their suckers of one kind or another.

    but heck I expect PZ will weigh in on the subject soon enough.

    after all, I’m just a fish guy (hence the handle).


  12. djlactin says

    were they actually ATTACKING him, or was he just on the centre-line of the squid highway?

    you know, the way they swim is kind of bass-ackwards, what with their eyes at the aft end and all…

  13. Ichthyic says

    you know, the way they swim is kind of bass-ackwards, what with their eyes at the aft end and all…

    actually, it’s more accurate to think of squids like “Wonkevators”;

    they can pretty much just as easily go forwards, backwards, sideways, longways, slantways…

    true, they do tend to go fastest backwards, but it’s a minor thing.

    plus, IIRC, they have a very wide range of vision, so regardless of the direction they are traveling, they can easily see where they are going.

  14. Finback says

    Oh god.. don’t you see…

    They’re starting their assault on the land-dwellers, or as they might call us, over-prey..

  15. Joshua White says

    Not the most intellectual show in the world but Chris Pontius of “Jackass” on the spinoff “Wildboyz” was filmed being attacked by humboldt squid while wearing similar armor. It was really impressive.