The Humboldt Squid And You

12:00 am child avatars, policy, science

The Humboldt squid is pretty big. It can be up to six feet long. It lives in the Pacific ocean, near the western shore of the US. They are carnivores. They have strong tentacles and a razor sharp beak. This species of squid has long been known to attack divers and fishermen, but the attacks are much more common when they are being fished. Some researchers decided to figure out why the squid fight back. It is rare for a fish to know it is about to be caught. How do they know who their aggressors are? How can they be so smart?

Humboldt Squid So, the scientists went along with some fishermen one night and put some cameras into the ocean to observe a bunch of the squid (called a “shoal”). The fishermen threw something like dead sardines into the water, as they usually do, and some squid came nearer to the surface. Normally the animals like to stay down very deep in the ocean (200 – 700 m), but convenient food is always interesting.

The squid stayed in one spot in the water, near the food. Suddenly, a large metal thing plunged into the water and narrowly whizzed by one of the animals. Another one nailed a squid, and it was whisked out of sight. It didn’t matter how hard it fought; the rope pulled it away faster than anything. Squid watched as one by one their friends and relatives got sucked into the sky. What the scientists observed next was very interesting. In the midst of this experience, the squid got very agitated. They started darting around unpredictably. They bumped into each other. They lashed out indiscriminately. They attacked each other mercilessly. They even ate each other, on the spot.

The squid are victims of their own awareness. Smart enough to know what is happening to them, but not smart enough to do something constructive about it.

When your friends get sucked out into the sky, try not to panic. There’s not much you can do. Eating your friends alive isn’t going to help. My advice is to just pack up as best you can, and try to find some tastier sardines somewhere else.

/me skin turns different colors and he squirts water at you.

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