Ten Sensational Squids: Humboldt Squid (#9)
January 19, 2010
9. Dosidicus gigas (Humboldt Squid)
The Humboldt Squid (aka the Jumbo Squid, aka the Jumbo Flying Squid, aka Diablo Rojo, aka the Red Devil) was the star of the minor, and poorly researched, media frenzy this past Summer that I like to call Squidvasion! 2009. Although there’s no excuse for lazy science reporting, I can understand the impulse to occasionally over-sensationalize an animal as cool as Dosidicus gigas. They can grow up to 7 ft long and posses tentacles with razor-sharp suckers for crying out loud! They also have the ability to instantly change their color from white to a deep blood-red, and, as the name “Jumbo Flying Squid” suggests, they have been known to eject themselves out of the water to avoid predators. Humboldts are the most common species of large squid, at least of those that we are able to easily observe. They travel in large shoals of up to 1,200 individuals and come to the surface at night to feed. Their vicious and voracious reputation has probably been a wee bit exaggerated, but I would still think twice before going swimming with a thousand man-sized predatory squid! Of course it would be another story completely if I had a suit of anti-squid armor!
This video by KQED, starts off a little on the cheesy side (and features a talking head that insists on calling them “fish”), but that soon gives way to a very informative and level-headed look at the biology of D. gigas and how its recent expansion of range may be connected with global climate change. Of course the best part is all the excellent footage of Jumbo Squids in action!