Friday Squid Blogging: Humboldt Squid is "Timid"

Contrary to my previous blog entry on the topic, Humboldt squid are really timid:

Humboldt squid feed in surface waters at night, then retreat to great depths during daylight hours. “They spend the day 300 meters deep where oxygen levels are very low,” Seibel said. “We wanted to know how they deal with so little oxygen.”

Seibel said that while the squid are strong swimmers with a parrot-like beak that could inflict injury, man-eaters they are not. Unlike some large sharks that feed on large fish and marine mammals, jumbo squid use their numerous small, toothed suckers on their arms and tentacles to feed on small fish and plankton that are no more than a few centimeters in length.


Seibel was surprised by the large number of squid he encountered, which made it easy to imagine how they could be potentially dangerous to anything swimming with them. Their large numbers also made Seibel somewhat pleased that they appeared frightened of his dive light. Yet he said the animals were also curious about other lights, like reflections off his metal equipment or a glow-in-the-dark tool that one squid briefly attacked.

“Based on the stories I had heard, I was expecting them to be very aggressive, so I was surprised at how timid they were. As soon as we turned on the lights, they were gone,” he said. “I didn’t get the sense that they saw the entire diver as a food item, but they were definitely going after pieces of our equipment.”

I don’t trust the research, or the squid.

Posted on August 7, 2009 at 4:53 PM14 Comments


aikimark August 7, 2009 6:34 PM


Timid…until you are their supper
Timid…until you are their deep water swim buddy
Timid…until you are their mating frenzy bitch

Dom De Vitto August 8, 2009 2:10 AM

To para-quote:
Humboldts grow to 5 feet in two years, but that’s still hardly mature. To say Humboldts are harmless, is like playing with lioncubs for half an hour, and then writing that lions can’t possibly eat people.


jack August 8, 2009 4:02 AM


At least read the wikipedia article before you risk your life.

They are very passive creatures under most circumstances. When a hungry swarm meets a major food source, however, they go into a feeding frenzy so intense that similar-size cannibalism begins to occur.

A swarm of two foot squid in these circumstances is enough to kill a diver with limited air – they’re practically all muscle, ink, suckers, and beak. A single six-foot squid could easier take out a scuba diver.

Nostromo August 8, 2009 3:44 PM

I remember reading about a guy who raised a tiger cub. It was really tame, liked its owner, totally harmless etc.

One day, the owner was sitting on the deck reading, and the tiger cub was licking his knee. How sweet. Then he realised that the place it was licking was where he’d accidentally cut himself the previous day. The tiger cub was tasting human blood.

He tried to push it away, but it didn’t want to stop licking and was too strong for him. Tigers have abrasive tongues. The little cut had expanded and was yielding quite a flow of blood.

The guy kept his head, and called to someone to bring him a loaded rifle. The tiger cub didn’t know about rifles, so he was able to put a bullet through its head at a range of zero.

He decided not to raise any more of these harmless creatures as pets.

David Harmon August 8, 2009 7:57 PM

It’s an extremely smart predator… just because they can check you out without attacking you on the spot, doesn’t mean they (even the same animal) won’t attack you another time.

Heck, people regularly get into trouble with pet snakes, and those are dumb predators!

David Harmon August 8, 2009 8:00 PM

Also, “cautious” does not equal “timid”…. It just means they’re not stupid about unknown phenomena!

ed August 8, 2009 9:00 PM

I expect there’s also a different response to small lights (the glowy tool and reflections off equipment) and large dive lights. Dive lights tend to approximate daylight. Small glowies and shinies tend to approximate normal squid food.

ed August 8, 2009 9:06 PM

“… and plankton that are no more than a few centimeters in length.”

Plankton get that big?

Peter E Retep August 12, 2009 6:19 PM

I recall still the first hand survivor accounts of ship’s personnel
after being sunk off the Chluthu Coast
when the squids came up to feed on the majority of the survivors.
Worse than the sharks in the Coral Sea.

bob lewis September 13, 2009 11:16 PM

I was fishing two days ago for silver salmon in Clallam bay{in the straight of Juan De Fuca} early in the morning,about 7:30, and caught a 4 foot squid that had entangled itself in my hooks. I was fishing in about 260 feet of water and I am quite sure that my herring bait was not deeper than 60 feet. While the sun was not high in the sky it was definately daylight. I would estimate it weighed 30 to 40 pounds. We debated what to do with it and in the end took the hook from its body and released it.

Erik Pedersen September 23, 2009 11:06 PM

Fishing off Ucluelet, BC on 9/21/09, with two rods out, trolling in 50 and 70 feet of water, with salmon lures, about 10 AM, in bright sunlight. Both rods got hit by Humboldt squid at the same time. We lost one without bringing it to the surface. The other was brought to the surface, hooked in one of the tentacles. Since we didn’t know what to do with this critter, we worked the barbless lure loose, and released it.

(Anybody got any good Humboldt squid recipes???)

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