Giant squid terrorize Californian coast
Divers spooked by tales of assaults as swarms of aggressive jumbo flying squid invade the shallows off San Diego
Humboldt squid, which can weigh up to 45kg (100lb) have entered shallow waters off San Diego, California. Photograph: Visuals Unlimited/Corbis
Jumbo flying squid have invaded the shallow waters off San Diego, California, spooking scuba divers and beachgoers after washing up dead on the beaches.
The carnivorous cephalopods, which weigh up to 45kg (100lb), came up from the depths last week, with swarms of them roughing up unsuspecting divers. Some reported tentacles enveloping their masks and yanking at their cameras and gear.
Stories of close encounters with the squid have chased many divers out of the water and created a whirlwind of excitement among those torn between their personal safety and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to swim with the deep-sea giants.
The so-called Humboldt squid, named after the current in the eastern Pacific, have been known to attack humans and are nicknamed “red devils” for their rust-red colouring and mean streak. Divers wanting to observe the creatures often bait the water, use a metal viewing cage or wear chainmail to avoid being lashed by the creature’s tentacles.
The squid, which is most commonly found in deep water from California to the bottom of south America, hunts in schools of up to 1,200 individuals, can swim up to 15 mph and can skim over the water to escape predators.
“I wouldn’t go into the water with them for the same reason I wouldn’t walk into a pride of lions on the Serengeti,” said Mike Bear, a local diver. “For all I know, I’m missing the experience of a lifetime.”
The squid are too deep to bother swimmers and surfers, but many experienced divers say they are staying out of the surf until the sea creatures move on.
Roger Uzun, a veteran scuba diver and amateur underwater videographer, swam with a swarm of the creatures for about 20 minutes and said they appeared more curious than aggressive. The animals taste with their tentacles, he said, and seemed to be touching him and his wet suit to determine if he was edible.