So that huge weird cephalapod that Jake and Maisie saw last Sunday? Jumbo squid. I got a lot of mail about it, and these links to fascinating and somewhat alarming (squid attack!) stories about the deep sea creatures. According to ABC7.com, jumbo squid are bigger and more numerous than ever before.
Fishermen are thankful, but biologists are worried.
"I have nearly a thousand dives with these animals and I have been either tested or full out attacked about 80 percent of the time," Scott Cassell said.
Cassell has been studying the Humboldt squid for the past 13 years.
"These animals are some of the most mysterious and unknown species in the world," Cassell said.
Cassell has even made a movie about his diving adventures, underwater excursions that require an armor plated suit.
"I have felt my life was in danger several times with the squid, but knowing that the cable and the armor I was pretty much impervious to the damage," Cassell said.
But Cassell, like other marine experts, says something is not right.
For the third time in ten years, massive amounts of Humboldt squid have been flourishing in the waters of Southern California.
"There is more population of Humboldt squid than is naturally proper," Cassell said.
I know you probably just skimmed that excerpt, but did you see the part about the diver having to wear an armor plated suit?!
A story in the Ventura County Star says it's been 75 years or so since so many jumbo squid have made a SoCal sojourn.
Dale Sweetnam, a senior marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game, said a run like this hasn't happened off Ventura County since the 1930s. As many as 38,000 have been caught in one year off California over the past three years. Before that, they were almost nonexistent. Sweetnam encouraged fishermen to take only what they can eat.
Nobody is exactly sure why they've recently settled off the California coast.
Sweetnam said squid follow the baitfish they feed on, so they may have found a nice patch of mackerel or anchovies.
Still, as much as fishermen love them, they can hate them, too. Because the squid eat so much and feed in packs like wolves, after a few months, they can deplete other fish.
Apparently the worldwide decline of sharks has something to do with the squid's population boom.