Friday Squid Blogging: Giant Squids off California!

Seems like there’s some hysteria in the making:

They are deadly, huge and fast moving. Their tentacles can suck the life out of a human being and they’ve arrived in Northern California.

The whole article is like that.

Posted on April 6, 2007 at 3:00 PM32 Comments


Mike Sherwood April 6, 2007 3:20 PM

I couldn’t help but skim over the ratings-seeking-language and get down to the core of the message. These ferocious would-be man-eaters sound like they would be delicious with a marinara sauce and some garlic bread.

bbm April 6, 2007 3:49 PM

There was a documentary on these fascinating animals on the BBC last year. It seems they are intelligent (more so than dogs) and communicate via colour. Anyhow they showed (at least) two views of these giant squid in waters off Asia. In the first they filmed life and death struggles with night fishermen pulling squid up onto boats from line hooks. The fishermen feared them and their deadly nature. The next night the film crew went down into the ocean 5 miles away from the fishermen and filmed completely different scenes of graceful, peaceful and inquisitive giants darting up to the camera crew and off again, twisting and flashing colours.

It seems that you are “enemy” to these deadly beasts if you define yourself as such.

AndrewS April 6, 2007 4:57 PM

Hysteria? And here was me hoping to do a lot more night dives this year so I might get to see one. Darn. Well if there’s going to be hysteria involved I’ll just skip it.

Jamie Flournoy April 6, 2007 6:29 PM

(We’re all cranky skeptics here, so what the heck… rant time!)

Talk about conflict of interest in media!

  • CBS: if it bleeds (in the water) it leads, so they’re prone to exaggerate the danger. Did they bring in the food critic to write the bit about “you can cook them several different ways”?
  • Rick Powers: “They are the most exciting thing to catch in the ocean.” He runs a sport fishing boat (see article here about how squid hunting is his hot new business–demons-41538.html) , so he’d be prone to exaggerate the thrill of killing them, and the idea that they’re Godless Killing Machines ™ that deserve nothing more than a sizzling breaded fate at the hands of heroic sport fishermen
  • Karl Menard, Aquatic Resources Manager for UC Davis’ Bodega Marine Laboratory: prone to exaggerate the new mysterious behavior that needs lots of academic research (grant money, cha ching!)

I’m sure this kind of journalistic integrity has nothing to do with the collapse of old media. Nope. It’s all Craigslist’s fault.

pointfree April 6, 2007 7:16 PM

“Giant squid make for good eating. They can be broiled, baked, fried or barbecued. And are considered a delicacy. Just know they are also cannibalistic.”

This is really the only relevant part of the article, the fact they can be useful on the dinner plate.

I wonder though; are they cannibalistic before or after they are cooked ?

Rich April 6, 2007 9:02 PM

“I wonder though; are they cannibalistic before or after they are cooked ?”

Good point, since we’ve already established that they’re vampiristic (vampiric?). I wonder if terrorists have a plot to train giant vampire squid to let themselves be caught and cooked, then attack people?

not Giant Squid April 7, 2007 1:55 AM

They didn’t even get the name right. According to Wikipedia, actual Giant Squid (Architeuthis) do not make good eating because they contain ammonium chloride. The are also rarely caught, have only had videos taken twice, and have never been taken alive. Based on other news stories, these seem to be Humbolt squid.

(Nor are they Colossal Squid, as the San Jose Mercury’s headline writer has it.)

JP Vossen April 7, 2007 1:55 PM

Someone has been reading Benchley’s Beast again… How long until that’s back in print with the current “gigantimungous (sp?) squid” media fad?

Shaggywoof April 7, 2007 4:14 PM

This is why I stopped watching television news long ago. Nothing but dumbed down 30 second sound bytes and worthless (usually inaccurate as well) tripe.

Anonymous April 8, 2007 3:03 PM

sorry, i meant to say my dog ate a giant squid. it was leftovers from dinner.

Jimmy Havok April 8, 2007 6:30 PM

Honor the Giant Squid, and He will bring you good parking. The Giant Squid is the diety in charge of parking spaces, and a quick affirmation of His role will influence Him to provide you a convenient parking space, often with time left on the meter.

Sawaba April 8, 2007 9:28 PM

First, not giant squids. I’m no expert, but just from my casual interest (reading a few books, watching a few documentaries), I know there are a few big varieties, and the adults would have these as appetizers before they go after WHALES. Giant squids, or architeuthis, get really big (43ft). Colossal Squids get even bigger (46ft). This looks like a Humboldt Squid (which ARE sometimes called Giant squids, according to Wikipedia).

But hey – if the biggest thing you’ve ever seen is Calimari on your plate at Macaroni Grill, 100lbs seems pretty darn Giant.

The other thing that bugged me was the cannibal comment. Is it just me, or does cannibal refer to eating your own kind? It sounds like the way they are trying to use the word is to mean, “something that eats humans”.

Oh, and by the way, they left to avoid the GIANT MAN EATING GREAT WHITE KILLER SHARKS that just moved in. Did I mentioned they were man eating? Don’t go near the water. Dum-dum, dum-dum, dum-dum-dum-dum…

Tom Hlavac April 8, 2007 9:31 PM

Octopus (pacific giant octopus anyways) can be cannibalistic. These large octopus have a relatively short life, perhaps 3 1/2 yrs. When small they are prey for just about anything. At a certain point the situation reverses, a large octopus will eat smaller ones (my webiste pics include one that has a tentacle hanging from it’s “mouth”- and the consumed octopus appears to have been larger than the one eating it). They will fight when breeding (often we find 2 males near a female’s den, sometimes busy fighting each other). They eat scallops, crab, cockles, finfish, and can catch cormorants (diving birds).

There are still some octopus divers working the waters off British Columbia. They capture octopus for the food, bait and aquarium markets. The divers dive alone, with a tender working the boat at the surface. Imagine traccking a large 70 pounds plus, 15-18 foot across octopus, alone in murky water, sometimes quite deep – up to 135 feet. If you mishandle the octopus, it can kerfargle you by taking off your mask, removing your regulator, dropping your weight belt, or wrapping a few tentacles around your legs, and holding onto the bottom with the rest. They have to hold on, and you have only two to untangle everything 😉

Rich April 9, 2007 10:07 AM

@Tom Hlavac

“octopus have a relatively short life, perhaps 3 1/2 yrs”

Now that can’t be so- I saw “Armstrong” the octopus at the Undersea Gardens in Victoria in 1972, and again in 2001, and he was still alive and well 🙂

armstrong April 9, 2007 11:16 AM

The lifespan of a free octopus and a captive octopus don’t have to be the same. They’re a bit like neutron decay – look up a paper on octopus spin statistics.

Jeff April 9, 2007 11:25 AM

Given the posting date of the original article, has anybody else considered the article to be an April Fool’s 1-Off? Certainly reads like it.

Tom Hlavac April 9, 2007 2:16 PM

Armstrong the octopus at Undersea Gardens was actually many Armstrongs, when one got a bit worn and torn from all the handling, he’d be replaced with another, often a few times a year. The aquarium had a collection permit and several divers supplied them octopus and the other critters displayed.

ForeclosureFish April 13, 2007 12:56 PM

I read this article a while back and enjoyed the newest hyped-up hysteria, as well.

The whole article is the journalistic equivalent of a roller coaster: Giant squids are very dangerous. But have not attacked human beings. But they can suck the life out of man. But they’re great sport. Giant squids are very nasty, cannibalistic animals. But they taste great.


GuitarMaster April 16, 2007 8:05 AM

Typical yank-media bravado hype, with no scientific accuracy or intelligent observation or commentary. It’s no wonder that half the worlds species are endangered.

Yee-ha! I’s gonna catch me some ahct oh puss before dang thang catches me or one of ma boys! Evil sunsabitches!

yourmomsagiantsquid November 13, 2007 9:21 AM

Giant squids don’t exsist they were created to make people nervous, so it’s really all just a conspiracy. Trust me, I would know. My brother works for a marine biology section for the gov. and he told me all about it. I can’t believe you guys fell for that crap: they keep changing their story anyway; it’s two-hundred feet long, they grow to be twenty feet long, the largest one we’ve seen is sixty feet, a one-thousand foot long one was spotted! Honestly, you’ve got to be kidding me. I aint falling for it.

bob March 8, 2013 1:37 AM

Dunno how they taste, but I’ve dissected a small one, before. They’re interesting creatures.

As is probably obvious, they’re mostly muscle, which is one good reason not to piss one off.

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