Entries Tagged "squid"

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Friday Squid Blogging: Humboldt Squid

Great article on the Humboldt squid from Outside Magazine:

I worry about these things because Cassell, 44, a world-class diver, underwater cameraman, and Special Operations vet from Escondido, California, is out to convince me—live and up close—that the undersea world’s most intriguing predator is not one of the usual suspects (like the great white shark or killer whale) but a powerful, outsize squid that features eight snakelike arms lined with suckers full of nasty little teeth, a razor-sharp beak that can rapidly rip flesh into bite-size chunks, and an unrelenting hunger. It’s called the Humboldt, or jumbo, squid, and it’s not the sort of calamari you’re used to forking off your dinner plate. This squid grows to seven feet or more and perhaps a couple hundred pounds. It has a rep as the outlaw biker of the marine world: intelligent and opportunistic, a stone-cold cannibal willing to attack divers with a seemingly deliberate hostility.

What about the giant squid, you may ask? “Wimpy,” says Cassell. The giant—which grows to 60-plus feet and is one of only four squid, out of the 400 or so species found in the oceans, that are human-size or bigger—is generally considered to be fairly placid. In any case, it’s so elusive, no modern squid hunter has ever even seen one alive. No, if you want a scary squid, you want a Humboldt. And they’re easy to find, teeming by the millions in Pacific waters from Chile to British Columbia. (It’s named after the Humboldt Current, off South America’s west coast.)

Cassell first heard about the “diablos rojos,” or red devils, in 1995, from some Mexican fishermen as he was filming gray whales for German public television in Baja’s Laguna San Ignacio. Intrigued, he made his way to La Paz, near the southern tip of Baja, to dive under the squid-fishing fleet. It was baptism by tentacle. Humboldts—mostly five-footers—swarmed around him. As Cassell tells it, one attacked his camera, which smashed into his face, while another wrapped itself around his head and yanked hard on his right arm, dislocating his shoulder. A third bit into his chest, and as he tried to protect himself he was gang-dragged so quickly from 30 to 70 feet that he didn’t have time to equalize properly, and his right eardrum ruptured. “I was in the water five minutes and I already had my first injury,” Cassell recalls, shaking his head. “It was like being in a barroom brawl.” Somehow he managed to push the squid-pile off and make his way to the surface, battered and exhilarated. “I was in love with the animal,” he says.

Posted on July 21, 2006 at 3:23 PMView Comments

Friday Squid Blogging: A Marine Biologist Comments on "Pirates of the Caribbean"

It’s got squid:

Danna: As you can imagine, I was pleased with the strong cephalopod theme.

Charles: I thought you might be upset by the reinforcement of negative squid stereotypes.

Danna: This might be another “take what I can get” moment. I was somewhat upset that the Kraken had all those teeth instead of a beak, though.

Charles: Well, lots of teeth are scarier.

Danna: I’d have to disagree, having spent a couple of weeks getting very personal with jumbo squid beaks. They’re very, very sharp.

Charles: I’ll take your word for it. I’ve never been personal with a squid before.

Danna: That’s probably just as well. Ink and mucus isn’t for everyone.

Posted on July 14, 2006 at 10:12 PMView Comments

Friday Squid Blogging: Former Squid Researcher to Lead Episcopal Church

Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of Nevada was elected as presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church:

A former research oceanographer who studied squid, octopuses and creatures living in marine mud, she was a second-career priest who was ordained in 1994.

The jokes have begun:

One wag noted that the study of invertebrates makes Bishop Schori supremely qualified to rule the ECUSA. She’s studied oysters and squids…this is a mental picture that I really did not need. Is this a case of ‘squid pro quo’?

Do you suspect that ECUSA elected an oceanographer as its primate in recognition that it is floundering?

Posted on June 30, 2006 at 3:41 PMView Comments

Friday Squid Blogging: 1866 Parisienne Squid Fad

Started by Victor Hugo:

Hugo turned away from social/political issues in his next novel, Les Travailleurs de la Mer (Toilers of the Sea), published in 1866. Nonetheless, the book was well received, perhaps due to the previous success of Les Misérables. Dedicated to the channel island of Guernsey where he spent 15 years of exile, Hugo’s depiction of Man’s battle with the sea and the horrible creatures lurking beneath its depths spawned an unusual fad in Paris: Squids. From squid dishes and exhibitions, to squid hats and parties, Parisiennes became fascinated by these unusual sea creatures, which at the time were still considered by many to be mythical.

Posted on May 19, 2006 at 4:09 PMView Comments

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.