H-CENTRAL COAST

Jan 8, 2013 9:59 PM by Keli Moore, KSBY News

Jumbo squid invade Southern California

Humboldt squid, also known as Jumbo squid, are invading the waters off Southern California.

Most recently the squid are showing up from Orange County to the Mexican border. Fishermen in Orange County said they are catching Jumbo squid by the hundreds. Marine biologists explained the swarming as a feeding frenzy on krill.

The Central Coast has not seen the abundance of these squid that Southern California has seen.

William Gilly, a Humboldt squid expert from Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station in Monterey, said until recently the Jumbo squid were mostly seen in the Gulf of California and the Sea of Cortez. So it seems the predatory mollusks have expanded their territory and some fishermen agree.

"We set the nets at night," said Jack Bateman as he worked on his boat Tuesday in Morro Bay. "That's when squid come to the surface to feed. It is a really good sign that there are fish."

Jack Bateman and his first mate have been at sea fishing for swordfish and for fun, they catch the occasional Humboldt squid.

"They are good eating," said Bateman.

"When you are fishing for them, you will hook one and then you will end up with a school of them around the boat," said Josh Dagama, who works on Bateman's boat.

Squid travel in large groups, but it's not evident whether they have migratory patterns.

"We have caught them three feet long or four feet. And when they get that big they're gnarly," said Bateman.

Jumbo squid can grow to be six feet long weighing more than 100 pounds.

"They have a beak on them the size of your finger. They will actually bite you," said Bateman.

Scientists said they are generally not aggressive, but Bateman and Dagama don't agree.

"When the Humboldt squid get above three feet, they are dangerous," said Bateman. "Squid eat almost anything even each other."

There is very little known about these squid, because they spend most of their lives at depths between 600 and 4,000 feet.

"Squid can go deep because they have no air bladder, so they go all the way to the bottom," said Bateman.

In early December many Humboldt squid were found on the beaches of Santa Cruz County, but it's not clear what caused this. Some scientists theorize that this happens when the squid invade a new territory.

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