Image Gallery: Humboldt Squid Stranding

Humboldt Squid (Image credit: Hopkins Marine Station)



(Image credit: arunkumud |

On October 9, Humboldt squid began washing ashore en masse along coastline in Monterey County, Calif.

Mysterious Phenomenon

(Image credit: Wardill, Gonzalez-Bellido, Crook & Hanlon, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences)

Scientists had noticed such strandings in many squid species for decades, but why they happened was a mystery

Humboldt Squid Stranding


(Image credit: mikeledray |

While Humboldt squid (or jumbo squid) can reach 5 feet (1.5 meters) in length, the squid washing ashore in Monterey Bay are mostly juveniles about 1-foot (0.3 meters) long.

Losing Their Way

(Image credit: Jennifer O'Leary, Hopkins Marine Station)

Researchers have noticed that schools of squid tend to beach en masse when they are invading a new territory, possibly because they get lost.

Toxic Waters


(Image credit: Eutrophication&hypoxia |

But during the most recent strandings, scientists noticed that the squid beached in 3-week cycles during red tides, or poisonous algal blooms

Potent Poison

red tide

(Image credit: Mr. Ducke |

The algae release a toxic chemical called domoic acid, which causes brain cells to fire like crazy.

Drunken Squid

Researchers study the disappearance of Humboldt squid.

(Image credit: Courtesy of William Gilly)

The timing of the red tides suggests that the squid may be intoxicated and disoriented by the neurotoxin.

Newcomers To Monterey Bay


(Image credit: Jennifer O'Leary, Hopkins Marine Station)

These squid haven't been seen in the Monterey Bay for a few years, which means the current crop of squid beaching themselves are unfamiliar with the area.

Dead Set For the Beach

(Image credit: Jennifer O'Leary, Hopkins Marine Station)

Sometimes people will toss squid back into the water after a stranding, only to have them turn around and head right back for the beach, researchers say.

Mysterious but Normal

squid on the shore

(Image credit: Jennifer O'Leary, Hopkins Marine Station)

Beach strandings have occurred for decades and, though mysterious, probably aren't a sign of bigger problems in the environment, scientists say.

Scientists Clean Up

squid, william gilly

(Image credit: Chris Patton, Hopkins Marine Station)

Here, marine biologist William Gilly holds a squid after a mass stranding

Tia Ghose
Managing Editor

Tia is the managing editor and was previously a senior writer for Live Science. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, and other outlets. She holds a master's degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington, a graduate certificate in science writing from UC Santa Cruz and a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Tia was part of a team at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that published the Empty Cradles series on preterm births, which won multiple awards, including the 2012 Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism.