Humboldt squid

Dosidicus_gigas

Profile

The humboldt squid is a medium-sized squid living in the Pacific Ocean off the shores of North and South America. It get its name from where it lives, in the humboldt current off South America. These animals are sometimes called red devils or red demons due to the fact that they are normally red. When disturbed and when they meet other humboldt squid, they will flash white and red, and the picture above was probably taken while the individual was flashing. Humboldt squid are also occasionally called jumbo squid, a much nicer name for these not always nice creatures. Although they are smaller than the Giant squid (the largest known squid), humboldt squid are much larger than other species. During the daytime, these animals spend their time in the deep ocean in between 660 and 2,300 feet (200-700 m) down. At night they will rise to about two hundred feet (61 m) up. Because their daytime ranges are too deep for safe diving, humans normally only contact wild humboldt squid at night. Diving with the “red devil” at night sounds dangerous, especially once you read more. Here are five videos about this animal in order of how long they are: 10 minutes, 3 minutes, 3 minutes, 2 minutes, and 2 minutes.

Size

These creatures can reach up to seven feet (2.1 m) long, although the average length is in between five and six feet (1.5 – 1.8 m). This average length is about the size of the average adult human. They weigh less than most humans at only 100 pounds (45 kg).

Diet

As mentioned earlier, humboldt squid eat at night and nearer to the surface than they spend the day. Prey includes shrimp, fish, and other squids even including other humboldt squids. Along with the eight shorter tentacles that are almost always visible, they have two longer tentacles called feeding tentacles that are hidden among their other arms. When these animals find their next meal, they will shoot out these two tentacles which then latch onto the prey with their barbed suckers.These tentacles then drag the struggling prey to the baseball-sized beak of the hungry humboldt squid. This beak is strong enough to easily cut off a human finger and it can even cut through the chain mail used when diving with dangerous animals. The lanternfish is one of the humboldt squid’s favorite foods, and fishermen wishing to catch these squid will sometimes use lights resembling those of a lanternfish in order to catch humboldt squid.

Predators and Protection

Talking about fishermen catching humboldt squid, there are actually several animals (and humans) that eat humboldt squid. Whales, including sperm whales, are predators of these animals. Other animals that have humboldt squid on their menu include swordfish, marlins, and sharks. When they feel threatened, these animals can spray ink at the animal threatening them and make a quick get away without being seen. Apparently these animals get into fights frequently, either with a predator or with each other. During some research, scientists caught four humboldt squid, two of which were injured. One had no left eye and another was missing tentacles! These animals are popular squid to catch, and this is demonstrated by the fact that humboldt squid fishery is the largest invertebrate fishery in the world! Around 739,836 tons (671,169 tonnes) of these animals are commercially caught each year in countries including Peru, Chile, and Mexico. While some are caught off the shores of the United States, these are just for recreational fishing and usually the squid are not sold.

Locomotion

Humboldt squid use different modes of locomotion depending on how fast they want to go. While traveling at slow speeds, most squids, including the Humboldt squid, will use the large flaps of skin on the end of their body opposite the tentacles. When an individual wants a short burst of speed it can quickly squirt water out of its siphon, jetting itself forward at up to 15 miles (24 km) per hour. Although this is not fast on land, the fastest human swimmer only reached 5.38 miles (8.66 km) per hour! Sometimes, when trying to escape predators, these squids will gather up speed and then leap out of the water, gliding through the air on the skin flaps I mentioned earlier. This ability gives them one of their other names, the jumbo flying squid.

 Reproduction

Because they live at barely accessible depths of the ocean, not much is known about the way these animals spawn.  There is some information known about their reproduction though. Each female can lay up to 21 million eggs which is the highest of any known cephalopod! These eggs are laid in masses of around one million eggs. After hatching, the young are only about one millimeter long! Humboldt squid are only known to reproduce once in their one year life, and like most cephalopods, they are thought to die right after spawning.

Don’t forget to scroll down and guess what the next animal is!

Marbled_lungfish_1

Sources:

Photo credits:

  • Humboldt squid – Public domain
  • Mystery animal – OpenCage
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