The Humboldts are rising!

The LA Times has a cool story about the growing population of Humboldt squid off the Southern California coast — tens of millions of the big beasts, and they aren’t shy.

The frenzy built and Kerstitch, as the lone diver shooting still photographs and with no bright movie lights to deter the predators, was set upon.

A squid grabbed his right swim fin and pulled downward. He kicked it away but another grabbed his head. The cactus-like tentacles found his neck, the only part of his body not covered with neoprene.

He bashed the squid with his dive light, far less bright than the movie lights, and it let go, but it swiped both the light and the gold chain he’d been wearing.

Another squid wrapped its tentacles around his face and chest. Kerstitch dug his fingers into its clammy body.

It slid down and around his waist and pulled him downward in pulsing bursts. Then it suddenly let go, but made off with his compression meter.

For whatever reason, the attack ceased and Kerstitch got to the surface dazed and oozing blood from neck wounds, thankful to be alive.

It sounds like the squid was just mugging him for some bling.


  1. says

    It sounds like the squid was just mugging him for some bling.

    I have this vision of a seedy harbor area pawn shop late at night with a squid oozing up to the counter with a compression meter and a gold necklace.

  2. says

    There’s only one rational response to this existential threat. I’m packing up my car with a bag of lemons and a gallon jar of tartar sauce and heading for Malibu.

  3. Anonymous says

    The largest squid ever found weighed only about 1000 pounds — that doesn’t come close to the giant squid of folklore (as in the movie 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea or in epic battles with sperm whales).

  4. says

    “Rob the jewelry store tell em’ make me a grill.” ;)

    I agree. Squids need bling, too. And, gold chain…Mexican squid… puhleeeeze, you couldn’t ask for a better stereotype.

  5. says

    As in the movie 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea?
    (Though a movie might be an improvement on Verne’s book, 5% of which consists of sentences like “What a wonder to behold so many strange zoöphytes! … ” and then a list of 10 or 12 species..)

  6. Chris Thompson says

    Are you sure this is a good thing? I believe I read the squid were swarming as a result of shifts in the Humboldt Current, due mainly to global climate change.

  7. Elias LEvy says

    While Humboldt squids can be aggressive, you should have probably pointed out that the incident happened while someone on their boat was bringing in a thresher shark, which no doubt was fighting to get away, and the squid where excited and in hunting mode, eventually taking out bites out of the shark. No one in their right mind would get in the water in those conditions without some serious protection or planning.

  8. llewelly says

    It sounds like the squid was just mugging him for some bling.

    Arrr! A scurvy pirate she be!

  9. llewelly says

    While it seems likely most squid will fare worse due to global warming, they do have much shorter generation times than humans, and the few that adapt may do so faster than humans.

  10. says

    PZ… have you been sending coded messages to your cephalopod minions telling them to rise up against their primate oppressors again?

  11. JohnnieCanuck says

    That noisebot image is one of the most hideous distortions in the name of artistic licence that I have seen in a while. Are those shark teeth or baleen?

  12. JohnnieCanuck says

    Did the LA Times article mention that the Kerstich incident occurred in 1990? Also according to he was a professor at U of Arizona and died in 2001.

    This is an issue the LAT has addressed before. Not being willing to register, I found an LAT article from Feb, 2004 by Pete Thomas that also talks of increasing numbers of squid and tells the mugging story in only slightly different words.

    Hopefully there is new information presented so they aren’t just plagiarising themselves.

  13. says

    Humboldt can be nasty if you get into the feeding frenzy. otherwise, they seem to be more curious than anything. But being tugged down while scuba diving can be bad if you can’t regulate your pressure fast enough. Safer than being pulled up, though. Squid pulling you down is better than squid evicting you.

  14. Leon says

    Oh, man! I’m disappointed–when I first saw the title, I thought you were talking about Humboldt penguins!