July 23, 2009

‘Menacing’ squids really quite timid

Reports about swimmers menaced by giant squids off San Diego raised the ire of marine biologist Brad Seibel who found the awesome monsters are really timid.

And, afraid of the light.

I want to spread the word that they aren't the aggressive man-eaters as they have been portrayed, said Seibel who has taken moonlight swims surrounded by a big gang of squids.

For years Seibel, a biologist at the University of Rhode Island, had heard stories claiming that a Humboldt squid will devour a dog in minutes and could kill or maim unsuspecting divers.

He said he didn't believe the hype but was a little nervous when he and his team went looking for squids beneath the nighttime waters of the Gulf of California in 2007.

He could see some of them far off with his flashlight but when he turned his light off, then back on 30 seconds later, he was surrounded by what he said seemed like hundreds of squids, some five or six feet away.

They were curious but not hostile and when he shined his light on them, they apparently were frightened, he said, and they fled.

Based on the stories I had heard, I was expecting them to be very aggressive, so I was surprised at how timid they were, he said in a release.

And. as soon as we turned on the lights, they were gone.