Friday Squid Blogging: 13-foot Tentacle Found off Santa Cruz Coast

From KSBY:

A fisherman snags a rare catch in the Santa Barbara Channel, a tentacle belonging to a giant squid.

The 13-foot-long tentacle was found floating near Santa Cruz Island last week. Little is known about the species, it is only the fourth confirmed specimen ever found in Southern California.

“They are definitely present off our coast, they are probably not very common here and they probably live in deep water, this one here was caught near the Santa Cruz Basin, which is several thousand feet deep,” said Eric Hochberg, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Curator.

The tentacle likely surfaced after the rest of the squid was eaten by a whale.

Posted on August 18, 2006 at 3:20 PM17 Comments


Roxanne August 18, 2006 3:51 PM

Next, they’ll be suspecting the squid of harboring terrorists. Meanwhile, the terrorists should study the squid’s techniques. Any creature that can hide this well deserves to be emulated. Should we postulate that the squid found off LA was there to collect data for a terrorist strike against US shipping interests?

The thing is, I can imagine some people I know believing that this is the case.

Carlo Graziani August 18, 2006 3:52 PM

So if whales find it easy enough to locate Giant Squid to make them part of their regular diet, why don’t marine biologists implant cameras on the foreheads of a couple of sperm whales?

Prohias August 18, 2006 4:27 PM

What is more effective: implanting wireless cameras on the foreheads of sperm whales hoping that one of them might stumble upon a notoriously rare giant squid and devour it, while the lighting is sufficient to see what is happening, the camera does not get dislodged, and the remote transmission is unhindered from the location. Or searching for the giant squid directly?

(Hint: Tradeoffs it is about for security – Yoda).

“National Geographic tried several times, unsuccessfully, to document a live giant squid in the wild.

Failure was not for want of imagination. Geographic specialists tried attaching “Crittercams,” cameras attached temporarily to sperm whales, the predators of giant squid. They also used “Ropecams,” cameras dangled on baited lines thousands of feet long.”


Daniel August 18, 2006 4:29 PM

Headline quibble: saying “off Santa Cruz Coast” makes one think of the Monterey Bay, 300 miles north of where this was actually found. “off Santa Cruz Island” (or “Santa Barbara Channel” as the quote itself uses) would be less confusing since the hippie town is far better known nationally than the undeveloped island.

K. Signal Eingang August 18, 2006 4:32 PM


you’re not the first person to have this idea, but it’s just not feasible. You’ve got to have a camera that can survive rapid dives of a thousand meters or more, carries its own light source and sufficient batteries to run it for however long it takes for your whale to locate a squid, and then you’ve got to figure out some way to strap it on the whale in a position where it can actually see what’s going on in the general vicinity of the front part of the whale. Then you’ve got to pray it stays stuck on while a half-ton of enraged cephalopod thrashes around in the whale’s jaws.

The squid photos that made the news last year were done with a camera that was powered remotely and only snapped a picture every 30 seconds, of a squid that was caught on a baited hook. Your chances are much better with something like that than just stapling a million-dollar video camera to a sperm whale and hoping for the best.

Fred X. Quimby August 18, 2006 5:24 PM

“Once again, we see Liberal pundit Bruce Schneier emboldening the Tentaclists…”

Rich August 18, 2006 6:35 PM


It must be Friday. That has nothing to do with squids. You probably meant to post that in the ‘behavioral profiling’ section.

(Sorry Moderator/Bruce, feel free to delete as seems appropriate)

Anonymous August 18, 2006 7:46 PM

Any creature that can hide this well deserves to be emulated.

There are… difficulties in emulating good hiding.

bad Jim August 18, 2006 11:22 PM

P.Z. Myers linked an article about an encounter with Humboldt squid in the Sea of Cortez. An excerpt:

“Humboldt squid have approximately 1,200 sucker discs, each one lined with 20 to 26 needle-sharp teeth. This allows the Humboldt to attack its prey with more than 24,000 teeth at once. And nestled in its bed of eight muscular arms and two feeding tentacles is a disproportionately large, knife-edged beak similar to a parrot’s. But the Humboldt is much larger than a parrot: they have been found as large as 14 feet in length and weighing more than 700 pounds.”

The diver, who was wearing an armored diving suit, was attacked by five squid and sustained numerous large bruises.

raincoaster August 19, 2006 1:51 AM

Very cool story. But I think it could be the zombie twin of that tentacle that was ripped off by the Japanese researchers last year, risen from the depths for revenge.

That’s what the screenplay should be, anyway. Is Samuel L. Jackson available?

Davi Ottenheimer August 20, 2006 12:31 PM

“the hippie town is far better known nationally”

Funny you’re right about the Santa Cruz coastline being north of the Santa Barabara coastline. However, I must point out that calling Santa Cruz a “hippie town” is like calling San Francisco a “gold miner town”. There was a time when the term described a population boom, but today hippies are essentially imperceptable compared to dominant populations of foreign tourists, hot-rodders, surfers, survivalists, high-tech entrepreneurs, real-estate barrons, Central American gangs, outdoor extreme athletes, etc.. More relevant, perhaps, is that some groups in Santa Cruz (like anywhere) use their fear and hatred of another group to help justify their own cohesion — “we may not like each other much, but at least we agree that we hate the [group x]”. Might as well hate something that doesn’t exist, or that you never see, but woe be the person who gets tagged incorrectly.

Dr. Evil August 21, 2006 7:07 AM

Forget cameras on the heads of whales. I have one simple request… sharks with friggin’ laser beams attached to their heads, and it can’t be done? Remind me again why I pay you people?

Deathwind August 21, 2006 7:38 AM

Considering the number of posts on this topic from Bruce, I’m getting that these monsters are not so rare !
After sharks, I may start a new marineline phobia on squids !

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.