Monday, August 25, 2008

Giant Squid Diving-Steve Blairs Report

From Steve Blair this week a quick albeit amazing Giant Squid report from the Sea of Cortez:


I wanted to tell you about my dive trip down to Santa Rosalia, Baja last week. I had an interesting trip! As you know I was going down there to dive with the giant Humboldt squid and with our infamous friend Scott Cassell. Scott was finishing up a Discovery Channel film shoot when I arrived and we had 3 days of diving to look forward to.

The idea was to get into the water once at dusk and then again after dark to observe and film the squid’s natural feeding behaviors at night. Because the squid can be pretty dangerous we were wearing full chain mail suits and helmets for protection against bites and the ring teeth in their 1200 suction cups and eight arms.

Here’s the fun part – we were diving at night in blue water with only 10 foot visibility hanging on a steel cable 40-50 feet deep under the panga and suspended over the 3000 foot deep abyss below. At night with the limited visibility you looked down below your fins into the inky black that only monsters come out of! We had no lights except for two small LED lights on a cable suspended 15 below the boat.

To bring the squid in close (and that’s not difficult) we had the fisherman on the boat cut up chunks of squid they were catching and throw them overboard. It was eerie to watch the white chunks of flesh flutter down all around us and just before you lose sight of them in the dark around you “something” would quickly appear and the chunk of flesh would be gone in a blur of arms.

The squid are very fast and in the limited visibility they move in and out of sight really quickly. These were some pretty large ones at about 6 feet total length. I was watching one attack Scott in the head and seeing others move around near him when one hit me in the side of the head as well. When they attack they hit with force and the arms grab and hold while the beak rips into you. Luckily I was wearing a helmet and this one didn’t try to bite me.

In the dark with hundreds of squid darting all around eating the chum raining down it can get pretty intimidating – like walking through a bar where everyone is throwing punches at you or is about to! Wild stuff to say the least. And I thought cage diving with great whites was cool.

Wanna go diving with us?

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