Thousands of jumbo flying squid—aggressive 5-foot-long sea monsters with razor-sharp beaks and toothy tentacles—have invaded the shallow waters off San Diego, spooking scuba divers and washing up dead on tourist-packed beaches.
Roger Uzun, a veteran scuba diver and amateur underwater videographer, swam with a swarm of the creatures for about 20 minutes and said they appeared more curious than aggressive. The animals taste with their tentacles, he said, and seemed to be touching him and his wet suit to determine if he was edible.
"As soon as we went underwater and turned on the video lights, there they were. They would ram into you, they kept hitting the back of my head," he said.
"One got ahold of the video light head and yanked on it for two or three seconds and he was actually trying to take the video light with him," said Uzun, who later posted a 3-minute video with his underwater footage on YouTube. "It almost knocked the video camera out of my hands."
Scientists aren't sure why the squid, which generally live in deep, tropical waters off Mexico and Central America, are swarming off the Southern California coast—but they are concerned.
In recent years, small numbers have been spotted from California to Sitka, Alaska—an alarming trend that scientists believe could be caused by anything from global warming to a shortage of food or a decline in the squid's natural predators.
In 2005, a similar invasion off San Diego delighted fisherman and, in 2002, thousands of jumbo flying squid washed up on the beaches here. That year, workers removed 12 tons of dead and dying squid.
This summer, the wayward squid have also been hauled up by fisherman in waters off Orange County, just north of San Diego.
Research suggests the squid may have established a year-round population off California at depths of 300 to 650 feet, said Nigella Hillgarth, executive director of the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Swarms off the coast—and the subsequent die-offs—may occur when their prey moves to shallow waters and the squid follow, and then get trapped and confused in the surf, said Hillgarth, who saw a dying squid on the beach last weekend.
"It was an amazing privilege to touch a creature like that and see how amazingly beautiful it was," she said. "They have these wonderful eyes. ... They look all-seeing, all-knowing."
That's the kind of description that pulls veteran divers such as Raleigh Moody back to the pitch-black water, despite the danger.
"My usual dive buddy, he didn't want to come out," said Moody, as he prepared for a night dive with another friend. "There are some divers (who) just don't want to deal with it and there are some like me that, until they hear of something bad happening, I'm going to be an idiot and go back in the water."
In: Arts and Entertainment, Other
Tags: , Video, of, Aggressive, Jumbo, Squid, Near, San, Diego
Location: San Diego, California, United States (load item map)
Marked as: approved, featured
Views: 92752 | Comments: 162 | Votes: 21 | Favorites: 22 | Shared: 13 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 2
|Liveleak on Facebook|