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Humboldt squid

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Humboldt squid
Dosidicus gigas.jpg
Scientific Classification
Red humboldt.jpg
Click here for video: NOAA Fisheries talk about the recent movement of Humboldt squid up the coast of California, into Oregon, Washington, and even Alaska.

The Humboldt squid (or Jumbo squid) [1] is a very mysterious creature. Very little is known concerning this animal because it lives so deep under the water that oxygen levels are too low for humans to explore. [2] Ninety-five percent of the squid’s life is spent in water levels as deep as 2,300 feet. [3] It is unknown to scientists as to what the Humboldt squid does during the day. It can only live for a few days in captivity so it hasn’t been able to be studied very thoroughly. [4] The Humboldt squid lives in South America but in the last few years has starting expanding its habitat as far north as Alaska. [5] The Humboldt squid is fast, carnivorous and dangerous. [6] Scientist used to think they lived up to one year, [7] but it has been determined that they live closer to two. [8] They surface at night and this is where they are fished [9] and this is also where scientists have collected almost all information they know about this squid.


Humboldt squid (Dosidicus gigas) swarm around Tiburon, possibly attracted to its lights. Several of the large (about 1- 2 meter, or 3-6 foot) animals clouded the water with greenish-gold ink.

The Humboldt squid can be up to 7 feet long and 110 pounds.[10] This squid's eyesight is spectacular.[11] Their skin is a purplish-red and sometimes white color [12] but changes when they communicate. Their communication happens through chromatophores which are ‘specialized skin cells’ that are part of an advanced communication system. They have a strong and specialized beak and sharp teeth that can be used after they catch their prey from a speed of up to 15 miles per hour. [13] They have 8 tentacles and 2 arms which have 100-200 powerful suckers.[14] Their rodlike pen provides structural support for their bodies. They have bilateral symmetry.(Miller, Pg707)


Almost nothing is known about the reproduction of the Humboldt squid because it’s spawning happens too far underwater for any researcher to be able to study. It is assumed that they live for almost one year, spawn once in a lifetime and like salmon, die after spawning. [15] The Humboldt squid lives 95% of it’s life too far under water to be studied and it can only live a few days in captivity, which makes studying them extremely difficult. Their eggs have never been found in the wild. [16]


In the winter of 2005, Humboldt squid were seen in high abundance near the surface at the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. click here to see a video.

The Humboldt squid (sometimes called the jumbo flying squid) is a very mysterious creature. They can be found in the Pacific waters from Chile to British Columbia. [17] Other than the fact that it lives between 600-2300 feet under the water and that they have been found in groups of up to 1,200, we don’t know much else. [18] It is a mystery how this squid is able to respire because the oxygen levels are almost nonexistent that deep. During the day, the Humboldt squid is typically 800 feet below the water and they come up to feed at night. [19] The Humboldt squid migrates in the winter to a location that is the equivalent of a 10-hour ferry ride. Scientists don’t know how, but they know it does happen. [20]

This carnivorous squid uses its 100-200 suckers per arm to capture its prey, [21] which usually consists of lantern fish and sardines [22]. When the Humboldt squid is feeding, it is very aggressive and as a group, this squid has been reported to eat even a dog. Their beaks are powerful and similar to that of a parrot. They repeatedly bite their prey, with their sharp teeth and tear it’s flesh with their beak. [23] Their predators include marlin, swordfish and sperm whales. [24]

An Expanding Habitat

The Humboldt squid gets it's name because it was originally found off the banks of the Humboldt Current in Peru. As this squid is moving upwards it is changing the environments around it by lessening the population of the major fish caught in California. [25] As the Humboldt squid are migrating, researchers are becoming more and more worried about the habitats and safety of other animals that may not be so strongly sustained. [26] Scientists believe that the cause of their expanding habitat could be because of the rising temperatures of the water. It could also be attributed to the popular fishing trade of this squid. They could be spreading out to avoid the danger of being fished. [27] For unknown reasons the Humboldt squid has been washing up on shores of beaches (particularly a beach in California), in mass numbers of up to 1500 (they typically travel in numbers this large). Some researchers think these squid were sent out from the group, on the Gulf of Mexico, to go and explore different areas. The population started increasing, part of the reason for these large numbers of washed up squids could be a toxin the water or it very well could be that the water is too warm for them. Either way, this change and expansion in habitat, has caused problems for many areas such as declining populations of other fish to the danger it can have on people swimming in their beaches. [28]

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See Also