Jumbo Squid, also called Humboldt Squid, are invading Washington’s Salish Sea and their effects on orca whales is being questioned. These swift predators grow 7 feet long, live in huge schools, and could have a major impact on the San Juan Islands’ orca whales if they become permanently established. The “Diablo Rojo” eats everything from tiny fish up to large sharks that are attacked in swarms. They can grow up to 100 pounds in a single year!
The squid could damage baitfish populations that salmon depend on, or consume the salmon themselves. Both would be very bad news for the orca whales we observe on our kayak tours in the San Juan Islands, as salmon are their primary food. On the other hand, the Humboldt squid might turn out to be a great substitute food item that the killer whales could feast on like their larger cousins the sperm whales. As both salmon and orca whales are locally endangered, the squid invasion bears close study, and some efforts are noted in this great article.
Humboldt squid beaks are commonly found on the Sea of Cortez beaches where we operate our Baja Mexico kayaking trips and we sometimes find spawned out individuals in the shallows. Are the oceans changing so drastically that they will become a frequent beachcombing item thousands of miles to the north in the San Juan Islands? If so, we may start fishing for squid on our San Juan Island kayaking trips and start serving kalamari for dinner!