Humboldt squid live at depths of 660 to 2,300 feet in the eastern Pacific, ranging from Tierra del Fuego north to California. They take their name from the Humboldt Current in which they live off the coast of South America. Recently, the squid have been appearing further north, as far as Sitka, Alaska, raising alarm about ecological problems possibly underlying the northward migration. Some oceanographers suggest that warming oceans are at fault, while others speculate that declining numbers of the squid's predators due to overfishing may have allowed Humboldts to expand their range.
Jumbo squid can reach up to six feet and weigh as much as 100 pounds. Their skin varies from deep purplish-red to white. Like other cephalopods, muscle-bound chromatophores on their skin enable them to flash a range of colors. They have two diamond-shaped fins which they use to swim and glide.
The average life span of a Humboldt squid is about one year.
Jumbo squid are notoriously aggressive and have earned the nickname diablos rojos, or â€œred devilsâ€� from Mexican shrimpers, who fish them in the off-season. Fishermen exploit the Humboldts' affinity for lanternfish by using lights as fishing lures. The squid may attack divers when threatened and will continue to put up a fight even after they've been caught, blasting their captors with water and ink.
The squid undergo mass migrations in these groups for the purposes of feeding and spawning. In the spring, thousands of individuals race north to the Gulf of California. Recently, hundreds of dead Homboldts have washed ashore on beaches in Orange County. Oceanographers suspect environmental causes are to blame.
Squid-like cephalopods are often referred to as Teuthids. The giant squid is called Architeuthis meaning "ruling squid."� These mysterious deep-sea creatures are the world's largest invertebrates, measuring 35 to 60 feet in length. Although a number of their monstrous carcasses have washed ashore or been discovered in the stomach's of whales, only one has been seen alive, in September 2004.