Hundreds of squid wash onto Santa Cruz shores

Published On: Dec 11 2012 04:51:31 AM HST
squid santa cruz

Photo by Jim Morrison

Squid dot the shore at Main Beach in Santa Cruz. (Dec. 9, 2012)

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. -

Hundreds of Humboldt red squid washed up on shores stretching from Santa Cruz to Aptos this week.

Beachgoers said the squid first began washing up in masses on Sunday and their squishy, inky bodies captured a lot of attention at Seacliff Beach, Pleasure Point, Main Beach and Hidden Beach. 

"Twenty washed up right in front of me," Jim Morrison said of his squid sighting at Main Beach in Santa Cruz. "It was like they were committing suicide."

Beachgoers and marine biologists alike were perplexed while trying to figure out why so many squid would suddenly wash up on shore in Santa Cruz.

"We went down to the beach to check it out and they're just littered everywhere," beach-goer Andrew Carroll said. "It's kind of disconcerting." 

NOAA Biologist John Field collected some of the squid in hopes of finding an answer.

"It's probably in-part the result of global warming. It may have to do with shoaling oxygen layers in the water column," Field said. "Why they beach is a mystery. It might just be that they don't know that the ocean ends and the sand begins."

The Monterey Bay is full of fish for the large invertebrates to eat, but over-zealous hunting can be fateful for a squid. 

"When they are foraging they get very aggressive. They will chase prey right onto the beach," Field said.

Toxins produced by marine algae can cause squid to lose their sense of direction, although biologist do not think algae played a role in Sunday's squid incident.

Humboldt red squid are also known as jumbo flying squid. They can grow up to five feet long and weigh 100 pounds.

Last month in Pacific Grove, a similar incident happened when more than 100 young and healthy Humboldt red squid were found stranded onshore.

Hopkins Marine Station scientist William Gilly said, "They are weird, curious animals that people are going to be fascinated to see."

Squid are not dangerous unless you get your hand past their barbed tentacles and into their razor-sharp beak. 

VIDEO: Squid in Pacific Grove


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