Carnivorous jumbo squid have been washing up on San Diego beaches and swarming in Southern California’s coastal waters, freaking out scuba divers and bathers this month, but a biologist now says these beasts are not man-eaters, despite concerns expressed in the media.
Reports started coming in earlier in July that dozens of the squid, also known as Humboldt squid, were washing ashore and interacting with divers. Jumbo squid can grow up to 7 feet long and usually prefer to live in deeper waters. Lately, off-shore divers have reported seeing large groups of the squid, which can swim as fast as 15 mph.
University of Rhode Island biologist Brad Seibel, who has dived with jumbo squid several times, called the reports “alarmist.”
For years, Seibel has heard stories claiming that Humboldt squid will devour a dog in minutes and could kill or maim unsuspecting divers.
“However, I want to spread the word that [Humboldt squid] aren’t the aggressive man-eaters as they have been portrayed,” Seibel said.
“Private dive companies in Mexico play up this myth by insisting that their customers wear body armor or dive in cages while diving in waters where the squid are found,” Seibel said. “Many also encourage the squid’s aggressive behavior by chumming the waters.