The squid effect

Okay, so the title doesn’t have much to do with anything except I was going to debrief on large squid a little and I realized if you add the word “effect” to anything it sounds like it’s going to be cool. You’ve been duped. Well, not entirely. I still think there’s some interesting things to be said.


So, giant squid seem to be the stuff of nightmares. They scoot around with all the other deep sea weirdos, doing their deep sea thing. They’ve always been enigmatic and have had limited walk-on cameos in literature and mythology, a la 20,000 leagues under the sea
speaking of cameos, here’s an aside. There’s this great moment during saturday night live’s weekend update when Steve Martin does a cameo:

Tina Fey: Hi Steve. What are you doing here?

Steve Martin: I’m doing a cameo.

Tina Fey: Oh, ok. Just doing a cameo huh?

Steve Martin: Yeah, I was just at home in bed, and I thought, “I’d like to do a cameo.”

Jimmy Fallon (quietly) So, what’s he doing?

Tina Fey: (quietly) He say’s he’s doing a cameo.

Jimmy Fallon: Steve, do you wanna tell a joke or something?

Steve Martin: Oh, no. Just doing a cameo. And I think its going well.

Tina Fey: Uh, how long is your cameo?

Steve Martin: Just regular cameo length. Just a few more seconds and…there we go.

Tina Fey: Oh, alright. Well, great work, that was a really great cameo.

Steve Martin: You think? (Gives thumbs up, and then leaves)

Tina Fey: Steve Martin everybody.


Alright, now getting back to it:

So, these guys sorta had something to do with me getting into the whole marine science dealie. I remember reading this book (when I was younger and still thinking maybe I’d like to dig up mummies for a living) that talked about the ocean and described these squid as having eyes the size of frisbees which is pretty hard to even envision.

But it turns out there are several large species of squid, each bigger than the last, sort of like a set of hideous, tentacly russian nesting dolls.

The largest is aptly monikored the Colossal Squid. We don’t know very much about this guys as they’re so rarely found, but there’s a neat article about one caught last year. The longest speciment was measured at 46 ft, but remember this includes all of this handsy creature’s tentacles.


Apparently, as their young form internally, they develop photophores, little light emitting organs and are lighting it up like christmas inside their momma:

“She’s just a sitting duck down there,” O’Shea said. “You don’t want to be lit up like a giant crystal chandelier.”

But, they also mention the red lining of the squid’s mantal probably block’s her glow-happy offsprings halo of illumination from external predators.

These guys have nasty hooks on their tentacles (in addition to some suckers) versus the suckers of smaller species.

Next up: Giant Squid

These are the slightly shrimpier cousin to the colossal squid if shrimpier still meant massive.  These have been documented at lengths of 30-40 ft.

Apparently they have ammonium chloride running through their systems (not sure if this is true of colossal squid?) to act as a bouyancy control as it’s a liquid less dense than sea water and helps them float.

These are found more often than the colossal squid but are still not what you’d call common.

The third-runner up is the lesser known, pimply cousin: the robust clubhook squid.I bummed the photo below from Wikipedia, but it was commented that this photo is exaggerated since taken with a wide-angle lens.


I don’t have anything exciting to tell you about him which is why you don’t hear about him very often.

And we might as well throw in:

Don’t mess with the Humboldt Squid…

These guys are commonly called jumbo squid and more slangily( I don’t care if it’s not a real word) as red devils.  They reach about 6 ft in length, but they’re tenacious and known for going after tough prey. There are rumors that they’ve attacked fisherman and divers. I’m not going to take the time to research this, perhaps this is better left nagging at the psyche.

Well, now you know more than you did, even if it may not be useful in your day to day life, unless you decide to become a squid biologist. Come on, you know you wanna…

Everything you wanted to know about squid but were afraid to ask (seriously, who brings this stuff up in casual conversation… besides me?)

Giant Squid and Colossal Squid Fact Sheet

How Stuff Works: How Squid Work


2 thoughts on “The squid effect

  1. Zuzu says:

    Giant squid, Steve Martin and Russian nesting dolls? It’s like you read my mind…

  2. […] supposed to be. When they dive into colder,more nutrient-rich waters to eat squid (See my blog entry on squid, it’s rockin) they bring some of the nutrients back with them which stimulates […]

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