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As someone who has been scuba diving with Humboldt squid in the Sea of Cortez off Mexico, this reporter can attest that it's an unsettling but surreal experience. I encountered a small group of squid, pulsating in the blue water, at 60 feet. Several of them charged toward me looking like alien beings, with their tentacles clasped to an arrow-like point. They traveled through the water at a remarkable speed but veered off as they reached me, and vanished.
The deep-water critters, which can measure 7 feet and weigh up to 100 pounds, are visitors from far to the the south and only show off California every 4-5 years. These northbound forays -- perceived by some scientists as an attempt at permanent colonization -- are believed to be spurred by a warm current or some other anomaly. A weak El Nino in 2009-10 might have spurred the recent invasion. In past episodes, the squid have shown as far north as British Columbia. They are believed to have an adverse impact on many native fisheries. The presence of squid, however, is a boon for sportfishing landings that offer special daytime and nighttime expeditions, with night generally best because the squid -- which typically inhabit depths from 650 to 3,000 feet -- are closer to the surface and can be attracted by floodlights.
Schwartz was interested in photographing them because they are such rare visitors to Southern California and possess an amazing ability to change color and pulsate with iridescent light, carried out via millions of chromatophores as perhaps a means of communication.
Originally posted by summer5
I sure would not want to run into these! I love sea life, but these things are really freaky.